The fire and security industry played an essential role in the response to COVID-19. Now the “new normal” offers the sector an unprecedented opportunity to rewrite its own rules.
New research reveals that 86% of UK business owners feel ‘somewhat to very confident’ about growth prospects at the end of 2021 – a 10% increase since January. Many cite opportunities created by the pandemic.
The skills shortage is currently the biggest barrier to growth, with most employers focusing on reskilling and upskilling existing employees to meet the needs and opportunities of the new normal.
Fire and security workers were identified as key workers during the pandemic, and had to pull together quickly to provide help and peace of mind to customers worried about vacant premises during lockdown.
Many in the industry also had to cope with their own transition to home working. Older workers have faced a crash course in new skills and the loss of established ways of working, while the youngest have had their entry into the workforce profoundly disrupted. Yet perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned from the experience has been the way teams have come together across generations to combine their skillsets.
To maintain this momentum, companies need to keep teams united around a common purpose and ensure each team member knows they’re making a difference and feels recognised for their contributions
The renewed focus on safety and the regulatory implications of the new Fire Safety Act will provide opportunities for the skilled traditional workforce to handle all the new testing requirements. And for the new generation, the move towards remote monitoring and smart technology in business and commercial security will provide opportunities.
Encouraging collaboration across generations has been one of the motives behind the Government push for more apprenticeships. Employers are being offered significant incentives for taking on apprentices. Given the long-standing skills shortage in the industry, it makes sense to take advantage of this, giving senior workers the responsibility of training their successors and the opportunity to keep their skills alive.
This collaborative approach, together with a renewed focus on flexibility and employee wellbeing, is creating a new culture in the industry that will carry it through the pandemic and into the post-pandemic growth period.