How Covid lockdown has made us realise the significance of unarmed security guards

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June 29, 2020 3:30 AM

The lockdown has made people realise the significance of unarmed security guards

An unarmed security guard is a person employed by a government or a PSA to protect the employing party’s assets. An unarmed security guard is a person employed by a government or a PSA to protect the employing party’s assets.

Unlike many of his friends, Shiv Prakash, a resident of Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh, didn’t ‘walk back’ home during the lockdown. Employed as an unarmed security guard at a residential society in Gurgaon, he didn’t need to. His salary is decent, and he gets medical cover and ESIC and PF benefits. During the lockdown he also earned something intangible—a lot of respect. “The lockdown made people realise the significance of unarmed security guards,” says Rituraj Kishore Sinha, group managing director, Security and Intelligence Services (SIS), a private security agency (PSA).

An unarmed security guard is a person employed by a government or a PSA to protect the employing party’s assets. His role entails guarding designated premises and people by manning the first tier of protection.

Private security industry (PSI)

According to a recent FICCI report, PSI is one of the largest employers in India, employing almost 90 lakh people, with the potential to employ 31 lakh more by 2022. These guards are employed in about 22,000 PSAs, and the prominent players are G4S, SIS, Securitas, Peregrine, CISS, Checkmate, etc.

The demand for security services is increasing due to rising urbanisation, the real and perceived risks of crime, belief that public safety measures are insufficient, and growth of a middle class with assets to protect and means to pay for supplementary security measures. The security service market is also supported by an improved economic environment and building construction activity.

An industry with such a large size and employment potential requires appropriate skilling to ensure job creation as well as presence of appropriately skilled manpower. The Management & Entrepreneurship and Professional Skills Council (MEPSC)—which has been mandated for skill development initiatives of the security sector since 2018—has trained and certified huge workforce for PSI. In addition, PSAs train their own staff. For example, SIS has 20 residential training academies in 14 states, and it trains between 18,000 and 25,000 people per year. G4S, another major PSA, has 30 training schools and has trained over 2 lakh guards in the last five years (an average of 40,000 guards per year). PSAs also ensure 100% placements for the people they train.

The major job roles include unarmed security guard, armed security guard, security supervisor, CCTV supervisor, security officer, personal security officer, assignment manager and investigator.

Outlook during Covid-19

A large number of daily-wage earners migrated to their native places during the lockdown. Col Anil Kumar Pokhriyal (retd), the CEO of the MEPSC, says that the government aims to bring these workers to mainstream jobs—about 67 lakh migrant workers moved to Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Odisha and Jharkhand in 116 identified districts, where the government has planned to initiate skilling activities in terms of short-term training as well as recognition of prior learning. “The MEPSC has aggregated a modest reskilling/upskilling/fresh skilling requirement of up to 60,000 unarmed security guards in association with regional/state security associations and PSAs for the recently migrated workers in these 116 districts,” he says.

Rajeev Sharma, MD, G4S India, adds that the requirement of security personnel has become very dynamic and industry-specific during Covid-19. “Businesses that are not fully operational have reduced the requirement, whereas those that have returned to normal have increased their requirement to ensure there are adequate resources for temperature screening, social distancing and crowd management. As the economy continues to reopen, we will see the demand increasing and expect it to be more than pre-Covid-19 days, hopefully by the time the festival season sets in.”

Way forward

Col Pokhriyal says that identification of different security job roles under the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005, empowering of service providers to be a part of the training effort under PSARA administered by states, and ensuring quality of trainers, assessors and the training being imparted through the MEPSC will further boost the growth of this industry. “It will give an identified progress path to the candidates seeking to make a career in security,” he says.

Meanwhile, for Shiv Prakash, and hopefully for many others this industry, it is an aspirational job. “It was not my career goal to begin with, but now I see a lot of scope. I want to be a security supervisor, and go up the ladder,” he says. “There is no time limit for promotion; it depends on how good your core and communication skills are.”

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