Brian Sims

The Institute’s View - January 2021

With support from key partners, the ‘Next Generation in Security’ programme has already enabled over 350 young people to attend industry trade shows and table-top exercises across the UK. What’s next, though, on the path towards a truly inclusive security business sector? Paul Barnard focuses on ‘Secure Futures’

ON A very cold winter’s day back in January 2018, snow lined the footpaths as I made my way towards The London Stadium in Stratford and a Counter-Terrorism Step Change Summit. It’s at this event, attended by a 300-strong audience notably lacking in diversity and inclusion, that the idea for The Security Institute’s ‘Next Generation in Security’ programme came to me. 

If we are to be an inclusive business sector in the truest sense of the word, and at all levels, then improving opportunities for disadvantaged youngsters such that they can launch security careers is imperative. The business benefits from this are easy to see. Just look at the tech sector. What’s even more astounding to me is the sheer volume of opportunity for a career in security. Collectively, though, we apparently find that truism hard to describe. 

Is it any wonder that young people don’t know we exist? In an Office for National Statistics survey of employment and the labour market for younger people conducted during 2017, the Top Ten jobs had changed slightly from the corresponding 2011 study, but there was still no direct mention of security.

On the grapevine, I had heard of the great work the EY Foundation has transacted. This is an independent, not-for-profit social mobility charity with vast experience of running similar engagement programmes for other sectors. During a meeting with the charity’s management team, I knew instantly that we had found a superb partner organisation to help us deliver tangible strategic change in our world.

‘Secure Futures’ 

The Security Institute duly supported the development of a new initiative, sponsorship was sought and several security partners decided to back the programme. As such, ‘Secure Futures’ was born. The EY Foundation undertakes the recruitment of course participants from school networks and looks after all administration, HR and personnel issues plus safeguarding checks.

The participants are paid to attend. Each course place is charged at £1,500 which includes all of the above services, project design and development. At the end of the course each sponsor will have enjoyed excellent exposure and, moreover, the young people involved will have gained a far greater understanding of – and an opportunity to develop – a career in security.

As a not-for-profit organisation seeking to raise standards across the sector, The Security Institute recognises that, collectively, it must attract more young people to the profession and render careers within the security business sector accessible to all socio-economic groups.

For its part, ‘Secure Futures’ will help improve the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, assisting them to develop their employability skills and showcasing the breadth of opportunities available within the security sector. It’s a model that has worked within other sectors, but this is the first time the EY Foundation has developed such a programme with multiple employers under a single industry banner.

Pleasingly, the initiative has already received widespread support, including from Admiral Lord West, our sector sponsors and other significant partners.

Work experience

The inaugural course is being held this month. No fewer than 27 young people will participate in two weeks of paid virtual work experience. The fortnight has been designed to highlight the variety of different focus areas within the security sector. These will be brought to life thanks to the countless security professionals who’ve volunteered to participate. There are sessions on leadership, self-reflection, communication skills and teamwork.

The age of the course participants is 16/17, with 16 females and 11 males involved. They’re studying towards their A-Levels/BTECs. We’re highly likely to exceed 85% representation from across the BAME communities.

The collective ambition is for this programme to have a long-term impact on both the young people and the sector. As such, the two weeks of employability skills and work experience will be followed by ten months of professional mentoring by volunteers who’ve offered to support our efforts. In addition, all 27 participants will be afforded free membership of The Security Institute for one year and invited to participate in young people-focused Advisory Boards specifically for the security sector.

Planning of the ‘Secure Futures’ programme pre-dates the current pandemic, but we believe it’s now more important than ever for this opportunity to be made available to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. That being so, we’re proceeding with the online delivery of our first programme.

Future-proof inclusivity 

Alongside The Security Institute and our other sponsors, the Security Industry Authority serves as the principal funder, investing money into this programme awarded to it from successful proceeds of crime applications. Other sponsors include CIS Security, the City of London Crime Prevention Association, ICTS UK, The Nineteen Group, SASIG, The Walt Disney Company, Ward Security, Wilson James and The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals.

‘Secure Futures’ has the potential to future-proof inclusivity for the security sector, ensuring that talented youngsters are given the opportunity to see the value of a long-term career in security.

Paul Barnard CSyP MSyI is Director of Youth Engagement at The Security Institute

*For further information on the ‘Secure Futures’ initiative and funding opportunities send an e-mail to: 

Paul Barnard
Paul Barnard
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