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Trends for the '90.

Trends for the '90s

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20. Unfortunately, we don't have the opportunity to plan or make decisions based on hindsight. The past is what we use in planning and decision making for the future. What does the future hold for the security industry in the next 10 years? Let's look at what's been going on in the last 10 years, five years, and year.

The events in Eastern Europe will play a role in our future. Even more important are the broad trends established over the past decade in both Europe and Asia. In the next 10 years the world's gross national product will divide into quarters. Twenty-five percent to the Pacific Rim, 25 percent to Europe, 25 percent to the United States, and 25 percent to the rest of the world. (1)

The economies of Europe, Asia, and North America will be tied together in such a way that we will be mutually dependent. We will live in an era of full employment. Within the security industry, this global trend will spawn four broad trends: a shortage of qualified people, more risk management, a rise in the use of technology, and a growth of new security requirements--and problems--due to this new technology.

Shortage of qualified people. A shortage of qualified people will be the largest single problem facing the security industry. It's estimated that the number of people entering the labor market will grow by less than 1 percent per year in the 1990s. It grew at almost 3 percent in the 1980s, and we created 20 million new jobs. (2) We'll create 14 million to 15 million new jobs by the year 2000. Yet, two-thirds fewer workers will be coming into the market annually.

We saw this situation in the late 1980s as the unemployment rate decreased in both New England and Southern California. As the economy approached full employment, it became harder and harder to fill security positions at the current wage rates. This held true across the industry from security officers to CPPs.

Security officers, both in-house and contract, account for the largest number of people employed in our industry. It is in this group that the greatest shortages will be seen. The reasons for these shortages will be similar for all occupations--drug abuse problems, criminal records, lack of education and training, and competition from other jobs.

Drug abuse. Currently, drugs are the number one problem facing the nation. The number of people with drug dependencies is growing at an alarming rate. Because of drugs, people's lives change. Unfortunately, many addicted people do not recover immediately. They enter rehabilitation programs only after becoming involved with the criminal justice system or after their lives have become so devastated that treatment is the lesser of two evils.

Meanwhile, many drug-dependent people function within our society. They are potential time bombs from a security point of view. These are people who will steal anything that can be converted to cash. In addition, they account for an inordinate amount of workers' compensation due to injuring themselves and others in accidents. This situation also creates serious strains in the health care system.

An even more insidious indicator of drug abuse in the workplace is an increase in customer complaints. This increase is caused by poor workmanship, missed production schedules, shipments sent to wrong addresses, etc. Few jobs exist where a drug dependent person can function, certainly none in security.

Criminal records. Drugs account for a vast amount of crime. It stands to reason that in a society with many addicted people, many will have criminal records.

Look at the number of people incarcerated in the United States today. Look at the number of people convicted who don't go to jail. How many occasions of driving while intoxicated, passing bad checks, or carrying out petty thefts do potential job applicants have in their backgrounds?

A person with a record of convictions is ineligible for many jobs, and security is one of them. The potential pool for new security personnel is greatly reduced due to criminal records.

Lack of education and training. Further compounding the problem is the decline in American education. We are not turning out enough literate people from the school systems.

We have high school graduates who can't read, write, or do simple arithmetic. We even have college graduates who can't write a paragraph without spelling and grammatical errors, who can't work out simple math problems, and whose work ethic is questionable. This is what we see in the workplace today.

A massive reeducation program is occurring. Industry is being forced to do what our educational system has failed to do. It is spending more for training than all the schools in the United States are spending for education. Many firms find they must start by teaching simple reading and math skills to new hires before they can start to teach necessary job skills.

Competition for jobs. With a shortage of workers, good old American competition becomes preeminent. The $4-per-hour employee is offered $5 by another employer, probably in another line of work. The same is true of the $10- or $15-per-hour employee.

The competition at the low end of the spectrum is fierce. When an offer of more money doesn't attract qualified workers, employers become flexible and creative: Fast-food companies offer tuition assistance. Other jobs are structured to fit nontraditional working hours. Two or more part-timers take over a full-time job. Day care for younger children is offered.

Flexibility and innovation have become the key to attracting and holding workers. All this recruiting effort, however, will further add to the cost of doing business.

These factors paint a picture of change in the security industry. Starting from a diminished base of potential workers, we will have to eliminate people because of their drug background, criminal record, and lack of training or ability. We will also lose qualified people to competition from other industries.

To compete successfully, we will have to increase the productivity of our individual workers. The old concept of one man, one gate, one patrol will not be economically viable. We have to look at one man, many gates, many patrols.

Rise of technology. Labor is the most expensive commodity in our society. It is also the most effective commodity we have when used with procedures and technology.

It is impossible to improve the productivity of a person watching a door or making patrol rounds unless technology is used. With card readers, CCTV, and ID badges, one security officer can staff several entrances.

Used properly, a person should do only what a machine cannot do. A machine can alert a person to a problem, but a person must evaluate and respond appropriately. A machine can be an extension of a person's senses.

Machines can watch many areas simultaneously, operate in hostile environments, work invisibly, and cover wide areas. For example, alarms become the eyes and ears of security officers, and CCTV and a recorder can provide a record of what transpired, but the person takes action based on what the machines have reported.

As we move into the 1990s, technology will take over more of what we do in the security business. Technology will allow us to reduce staffing requirements, increase the productivity of personnel, and improve the total security of assets.

Risk management. The cost of security is going up. As we move closer and closer to a global economy, competition will increase. Competition requires cutting costs and producing the same for less. This does not mean doing more with less. Experience has shown that instead of doing more with less we actually do less with less. The lesson is clear: Find a more cost-effective way to get the same results.

The problem in security is to find an acceptable level of protection for resources. What is an acceptable level? Perhaps we have been overprotecting certain resources. A reasonable evaluation of the threat level, resources available, and degree of protection required will provide the necessary information to make an informed decision.

This is where risk managemment enters the picture. What risks are acceptable and what are not? As security professionals we do not make these decisions. We list the alternatives, explain the advantages and disadvantages, discuss the costs, and brief management.

Security must be included as part of the total cost of producing goods and services. This concept is evident in the rise of system security engineering (SSE) within the Department of Defense.

SSE involves security right at the beginning of a project to engineer problems out and solutions in. It is easier, cheaper, and more effective to involve security professionals at the start of a project rather than retrofit, rebuild, and compromise later. We will be seeing much more of this concept in the 1990s.

Using risk management techniques, a cut inn the security budget need not be a disaster. By accepting a greater degree of risk, ways may be found to decrease the overall budget and improve total security. This can start with a careful threat analysis, covering not only the physical aspects of a facility but also a history of losses, criminal activity in the area, and losses within the industry.

Where do your problems begin? A good way to start solving them is by checking the company's hiring practices. How much do employees contribute to company losses? Remember, we hire our own problems. Does the company do background investigations? Does it use paper-and-pencil tests?

Effective, efficient screening will become more necessary to ensure that potential problems are screened out at the hiring process. Simple drug screening and a few cursory phone calls are not going to offer much protection.

The problems we currently have in getting information on a person's background are going to get a lot worse in the next decade. Polygraphs have been severely restricted. Access to criminal records is difficult or impossible to obtain.

The best way to protect your company in the future is with some relevant, job-related, paper-and-pencil test. Additionally, the best background investigation you can afford for the job will be money well spent. A single hiring mistake can be extremely costly, especially at the management level.

Look at the physical security procedures at your facility. Are pilferable items protected efficiently? Do you have an ID badge system? What can be done to consolidate materials for easier protection?

The answers to these and many other questions will allow you to build a series of security alternatives based on procedures, technology, and human labor. Each alternative will offer a certain amount of risk with a corresponding cost.

Management can pick the level of risk it is willing to assume. Cuts below that level would then be detrimental. This approach is increasingly being used to come up with a defensible, cost-effective security budget. We'll see a lot more of this approach in the 1990s.

Growth of security. The growth in private security over the last 20 years has been unprecedented. Today private security officers outnumber law enforcement officers more than two to one. Security technology, too, has grown at a phenomenal rate. For example, CCTV was in its infancy 30 years ago. Who could have foreseen the growth of the American Society for Industrial Security from a handful of professionals in 1955 to over 25,000 members today?

Clearly we are still riding a growth wave. If you liked the rate of growth in the past 20 years, you'll love it in the next 20 years. In addition to everything we've done inn the past, we will be required to provide service to many more industries, businesses, and government agencies. The more start-ups, the more expansions, branches, new buildings, and factories we see, the more security will be required. The problem is our ability to meet the demand.

A shortage of trained, qualified people will mean increased responsibility for many workers. Individual decision makers will have a greater and greater effect on their companies' bottom line. In addition, each worker will add additional liability both in terms of benefits and legal claims.

In 1980, who could have foreseen the problems with computer crime? Just as these new crimes became challenges to the security industry in the '80s, a whole new series of high-tech concerns will surface in the '90s. Many of these will center on computers and their applications.

The problem right now is that we haven't identified all the areas where we should be vigilant. As new ways are found to defeat alarms, CCTV, and other safeguards, our industry must identify the new weak areas and address them. Unfortunately, a great deal of loss will occur because of a lack of security.

The bottom line in the '90s will be the same as in the '80s. Security will be needed more than ever. People will be careless, be less than honest, act without thinking, break the rules, and do all the things that make security a growth industry.

In this last decade we will witness a changing world. The changes in Eastern Europe, the solidification of the European community in 1992, the further rise of the economies in the Pacific Rim nations, and decreased trade barriers will all contribute to a world economy. This will greatly affect us in the security industry.

A shortage of qualified people will give rise to technological solutions, an increase in the use of risk management decisions, a great increase in basic security requirements, and finally a host of new security problems we haven't considered yet. The only thing we know for certain about the '90s is that we'll have a new list of problems and trends to consider.

(1) John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, Megatrends 2000 (New York: William Morrow & Co, 1990), p. 80.

(2) Megatrends 2000, p. 230.

Kenneth B. Coolidge, CPP, is a regional vice president for Pinkerton's in Camarillo, CA. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Management
Author:Coolidge, Kenneth B.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Words:2310
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