It is now ten months since the Ministry of Justice announced mandatory training requirements for holders of Certificates of Approval or security licences. C4 has put over 3000 people from 70 different companies through the mandatory training and with a staff of 15 trainers are running between 13 and 15 courses a week nationally. As the largest provider of COA training in NZ, C4 has been well placed to review the sector and recognise trends and issues specifically related to security training.
One emerging trend is the heightened awareness of the importance of training to the industry and we receive calls regularly from companies wanting to know what their options are regarding the same. The majority of these companies have not previously seen the benefits of training or have found the process too difficult to manage. Initially many are only looking to fulfil the mandatory requirements but given comprehensive information regarding the national qualifications and the support available, their confidence in being able to manage training for their staff has increased significantly and they have been keen to commit to the full programme. Their main issue appears to have been a perceived lack of clarity and input from organisations whose role it is to provide support to the industry for training.
This process of growth has seen C4 increase its Level 2 training programme numbers by nearly 50% in an industry that has almost been in hibernation since the Rugby World Cup. It has been clear to us that our companies who are currently undertaking national qualifications are getting serious about the importance of training with many appointing staff to positions dedicated to overseeing and supporting trainee performance. A closer liaison with C4 has contributed to an increase in trainee completion rates and improved learner outcomes. One major company has even included C4 in its formal presentation for a national contract tender demonstrating the importance of professional training to their organisation. Clients of security companies are also becoming more insistent that guards have at least the Level 2 qualification or are working towards it.
One issue that has been forced into the open is the low literacy levels within the industry. The Tertiary Education Commission has identified the security industry as having low literacy levels but until the advent of mandatory training we believe that the size of the problem was not truly understood. Historically training providers and the Skills Organisation have worked with trainees who are registered on training programmes and who required literacy support. However, the huge numbers of guards who have never engaged in formal training due to poor literacy has meant that the true picture has never been clear. Now that they have been forced to undertake training they are out in the open, at times creating high stress levels within this group. This has presented C4 and other training providers with a great opportunity to support these trainees and assist them to achieve the mandatory requirements and also to provide ongoing support for literacy improvement.
A concerning trend is the number of companies who have not engaged in the mandatory training process and who risk having uncertified guards come October 1st. There is a belief within some areas of the sector that the PSPLA will allow for extensions, exemptions and dispensations for companies that have not yet started or completed training their guards. PSPLA have stated clearly to C4 that any guard without the mandatory training at October 1st will have their COA cancelled at PSPLA level. Perhaps then compliance personnel will be able to check this in a fashion similar to Police checking driver licence status. Worst case scenario is that guards will be stood down from their posts during compliance visits if they haven’t completed the required training.
This past ten months has been an amazing experience for C4 and our staff. We have met some wonderful people who are committed to the industry and wanting to make a difference. The achievement of the 3 COA mandatory unit standards has allowed many who have never succeeded educationally to believe that they can go on to completing the Level 2 national qualification. C4 has been proud to have assisted them with this and to be able to be part of the rest of their journey. The future of training within the security sector is exciting and C4 looks forward to being able to lead and support the industry along this pathway.