Guardians of society

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 July, 2006, 12:00am


TEN YEARS AFTER the introduction of licensing of security personnel in Hong Kong, the industry is still struggling to shake off public perception that it is a non-skilled profession. Even the government is not helping the industry's image much by labeling security personnel employed on government contracts as non-skilled. This is despite many advances in the industry and a need for protection of life and property in the post-September 11 era.

Ted Devereux, chairman of the Hong Kong Security Association (HKSA) and regional president of G4S Security Services, said: 'Our industry plays a very important role in keeping Hong Kong a safe place for us to live, work and bring up our children.'

'But the industry is still not an employer of choice and this has not been helped by the government,' he said.

Mr Devereux said the security profession was a growing industry that deserved acknowledgement for its importance. Companies were recognising the need for professional services and were increasingly outsourcing their security needs. He said the government was likely to outsource more services in the future, leading to further industry expansion.

'The police cannot and do not have the obligation to protect private property. With this in mind, and the daily news about terrorist and criminal attacks, we are all very aware of the need to secure our lives and property,' Mr Devereux said.

The security industry is rapidly modernising its use of technology and human resources. More sophisticated security solutions featuring the latest technology are being provided and a more effective mix of manpower and security systems is emerging. Therefore, the need for better-paid and better-trained security officers is increasing.

Mr Devereux said the industry was well served by internal and external resources for the training of its entry-level and junior supervisory grade staff. But, until now, training for senior supervisors and middle management was not adequate.

'At present this is partly [provided] by membership to an association but in the Hong Kong Security Association's opinion, a more tailored programme to suit local needs is required,' he said.

The Hong Kong Security Association is working with the Polytechnic University to introduce skill-based training and management training to bridge the gap between entry-level and tertiary education in the industry. This course will attract credits for a master's degree in security management introduced by the Hong Kong CyberU in July last year.

Thomas Wong Ching-hung, head of HKCyberU said the master's degree was a part-time course aimed at senior industry executives who had a post-secondary education and considerable work experience in the security industry.

The university has 45 students enrolled for the course, most of whom are security managers with large companies in Hong Kong and some are government employees.

The degree course involves completing 10 modules that can be studied online, supported by tutorials and workshops. It is assessed by written assignments, projects and examinations. Students have to commit a considerable amount of time to it, even though they all have full-time jobs.

'This is not a Mickey Mouse course,' Mr Wong said. 'The material itself is quite new, so I think students need to put in a lot of time.'

There are three stages to the course. Stage one covers security and risk management, physical security, building management systems and intrusion detection systems. Stage two covers advance security risk management, issues in security and advances in security technology. Stage three includes security protection preparation and involves the completion of two projects.

Students who do not have a degree but have significant industry experience are only allowed to continue with the course after they have passed stage one. Some students choose only to clear the first stage and leave with a postgraduate certificate. They are able to complete stage two and stage three later.

Paul Lau, a student of HKCyberU's degree programme and a senior manager at Pacific Crown Security Service, said it was important for senior management to stay ahead of technological advances and security management issues through further education.

'Previously, managers only depended on their experience. But in today's commercial security firm, you need to increase the standard of your performance by taking an MBA or a master's degree in security management so that you understand the commercial field, general management concerns, security management concerns and the new technology,' Mr Lau said.

He said there was talk of a qualification framework being introduced in the industry, where the first stage would represent a qualified security guard and stage seven would be a PhD holder. This would begin to bring Hong Kong in line with Britain, Australia and the United States, which were already offering doctorates in security science from various faculties dedicated to this subject.

'I believe that the government [in Hong Kong] is concerned about improving the standard of security provided to the public and I think in future years education will be a key consideration in our industry,' Mr Lau said.

Key Players

General manager

Senior security manager

Security manager

Assistant security manager

Senior security supervisor




Security personnel permit This is required by any worker whose duty includes checking visitors, monitoring security devices, door entrance control and so on.

DOB All on-site security incidents during a shift are recorded in the daily occurrence book, such as burglaries, lost and found items, false alarms and complaints.

HKSA The Hong Kong Security Association promotes professional security in the industry.

QAIHT Quality assurance in-house training is offered by most large security companies to recruits. Companies unable to offer this training are required to send their staff on a quality assurance system compliance guard-training programme, under the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority regulations in Hong Kong.

Security industry training organisation Offers a range of training for the security industry, including courses in security management, guard training, supervisor training and practice in security devices.