Skip to content

Photo by iStock

Guard Training Programs: Eight Recommendations

As part of the author’s doctoral thesis, he conducted a thorough review of the Alberta Basic Security Training program in Alberta, Canada, from a security end user’s perspective. After interviewing security guards, managers, and trainers, these eight recommendations emerged.

Ensure that programs have the requisite and appropriate training time to deliver material.
Although there are guard duties that are common from program to program, there are also larger programs that offer extra content that goes beyond those common duties, which requires additional training time. If additional time cannot be committed, then the content should be reduced so that training time is sufficient to cover the common guard duties. This is a case of quality over quantity.

Request the involvement of adult learning professionals in updating training material.
In some programs, students are trained in a passive environment, in which they sit in class without the opportunity to practice the skills they are learning. Those responsible for ensuring that security officers are trained should request adult learner subject matter experts from the educational community to assist in creating active learning training material for instructors to use.

Adult learning professionals can provide valuable input to improve learning objectives and ensure that they are met. They can help implement a variety of content delivery methods and help a program move away from an instructor-centric approach and toward a student-centric one. Local or national education experts may also be able to assess trainer qualification programs to determine if increased trainer qualifications are needed.

In some cases, the adult learning professional and subject matter expert can join forces in the training program. For example, the security practices expert may have expertise in report writing, patrolling, risk assessments, and physical security surveys. The learning professional can write the training content for the student's level and also mark rubrics, design lesson plans, and develop the appropriate delivery tactics.

Add a mandatory practical element to the training program so that students have time to practice the material in class.
Reducing the training content to its essentials will provide more time for students to practice key skills in class. While one cannot force a student to read material outside of the classroom, developing a training program based on homework has merit. Requiring students to be prepared upon arrival in the classroom should provide additional time for students to practice skills development in the classroom.

For many programs, scenario-based training would be recommended as a useful mandatory practical element.

Committees of security industry experts should provide feedback on developing or improving existing content.
The research into Alberta Basic Security Training found that in many cases no one could explain how program content decisions were made. Security training content should be developed by security practitioners for security practitioners. Industry experts should be asked for their input. Involving security industry end users on these committees would likely improve perceptions of program effectiveness and lead to improvements of existing programs.

Licensing bodies should ensure that wait times for obtaining a security guard license are as short as possible.
Delays in licensing wait times can be a significant barrier to hiring adequate staff to fill the requirements of security services clients and in-house security departments. Some contract providers and in-house departments have positions that remain vacant for weeks or even months due to these delays. Licensing bodies should also consider seeking input from the security industry on how to reduce licensing wait times; some contract providers may have expertise in improving the effectiveness of the licensing process, based on experience with other jurisdictions.

Increase local language proficiency requirements for applicants.
It is in the best interest of all parties to improve the language skills of applicants. When students are unable to participate fully in a class due to language issues, it has a negative impact on all the students in the class.
Low language proficiency reduces a security officer's ability to conduct investigations, write reports, assist the public, make emergency broadcast messages, or testify in court. Solid written and verbal communication skills should be required.

The government should set minimum trainer standards to ensure that trainers have a proficient level of security experience, as well as adult learning training and delivery experience.
This would mean that only those who have worked in the security industry for a minimum amount of time (likely three to five years) would be allowed to deliver training. This would also mean that trainers would be required to prove their formal training certifications in order to provide training.
In some jurisdictions, trainers are currently required to have security experience unless they have law enforcement, corrections, or military experience. This is not the same as security work; equivalencies should not be allowed.

Authorities should consider creating an industry panel of security practitioners to work with the licensing agencies to monitor and manage the security officer training and licensing process.
Creating such a panel would help improve the professionalism of the guard industry and help address licensing issues. It would also improve communication between licensing offices and the security industry. This panel of experts could also participate in the implementation of many of the previous recommendations.

Read more about guard training programs in "Guard Training Programs: A Development Guide"

Dr. Glen Kitteringham, CPP, heads Kitteringham Security Group Inc. and has taught many courses for the University of Calgary, the International Foundation for Protection Officers, and The Justice Institute of British Columbia. He has authored or co-authored more than 250 articles, books, and papers on security and life safety.