Suggestions to improve security sector

THE Government's initiative to mandate a pay rise for security guards, to be introduced in September next year, is timely ("Higher wages for security guards from September 2016"; Oct 30, 2014).

There are 70,000 people qualified to work as guards, but only 29,000 locals and 4,000 Malaysians actually do so ("Shortage of 10,000 guards as people shun low-paid sector"; Nov 23, 2014).

For years, the situation has been bleak, with a perennial shortfall of guards and supervisors in the industry. The bad work attitude prevalent in the sector aggravates the manpower crunch.

One recent example: A supervisor recruited for a new assignment resigned after two days of on-site training, before he even started work. He complained that the job was "tough" for him.

Increasing the minimum starting pay for security guards is not the solution. The turnover rate will still be high, with guards having no qualms about job hopping for marginally better pay or less onerous work.

Perhaps the Government could consider implementing the following measures:

- Raise the minimum paid-up capital requirement for applying for the Security Agency Licence from $300,000 to $500,000. This will ensure that only bona fide security firms with credible resources and an appropriate level of professionalism are qualified to take up security assignments in the market.

- Introduce control measures to ensure every guard is strictly licensed to work for one agency at any one time. This will minimise wanton job hopping and reliance on part-timers who take advantage of higher hourly rated pay and more flexible working hours.

- Under the proposed minimum pay increase for guards, clients will have to be encouraged to accept higher agency fees as a market standard. Most companies currently consider the security requirement a cost centre and are prepared to trade quality service for lower fees.

- Raise the standard of the guard force to attract younger people to take up jobs in the security industry. The Institute of Technical Education should conduct courses to prepare youngsters to take up security officer jobs, with enhanced job scopes requiring competent technical knowledge and skill.

Leong Siew Hon