New wage model hopes to 'perk up' security industry

Soverus Group employee Ahmad Amin said promotions and internal transfers within the security company expanded his knowledge and skill sets. All security agencies have to adopt the progressive wage model by Sept 1 or risk losing their licences.
Soverus Group employee Ahmad Amin said promotions and internal transfers within the security company expanded his knowledge and skill sets. All security agencies have to adopt the progressive wage model by Sept 1 or risk losing their licences.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A compulsory wage ladder for security officers will kick in on Sept 1, but security agency Soverus Group wants to take it a step further.

It wants to tailor a progressive wage model for security officers wanting to specialise into security systems and technologies.

The firm, which has about 1,000 employees, will be working with the Union of Security Employees (USE) to identify the skills and knowledge requirements for each job, set minimum basic wages and map career paths for its officers.

The memorandum of understanding between Soverus and USE - the first of its kind in the security industry - was signed yesterday.

Mr Paul Lim, chief executive officer of the Secura Group, which owns Soverus, hopes that the wage ladder they are developing can perk up an industry "beleaguered by manpower shortage due to stagnant wages, poor career prospects and long working hours".

Currently, there are about 43,000 security officers and it is estimated that at least an additional 25 per cent more are needed.

He wants to "change the perception that being a security officer is a dead-end job".

Mr Lim said: "We can encourage more people to join the industry knowing that if they perform well, they will be given opportunities."

Exemplary employees can rise to senior management level, he added.

Soverus has allowed its security officers to move across departments within the company to provide "holistic career opportunities" since 2012.

The practice, which the firm calls the Security Specialist Vocation Scheme, was also formalised yesterday.

Mr Lim said the scheme can "serve as an exemplary model in the security industry and help to elevate the profession as a viable career with promising prospects".

All security agencies have to adopt the new wage model for security officers by September, or risk losing their licences.

Mr Ahmad Amin, 44, joined Soverus in 2012 as an operations controller in charge of deploying manpower before transferring to his current job as a manager in Soverus' executive protection unit, planning security for high-value individuals such as foreign dignitaries.

Mr Amin, formerly a police officer for 22 years, said promotions and internal transfers increased his employability.

He said: "If I stayed stagnant at one place, I won't be expanding my knowledge and skill sets."

Mr Steve Tan, USE's executive secretary, said Soverus' initiatives will "definitely help" to address the challenges of the labour-starved industry.

Currently, there are about 43,000 security officers and Mr Tan estimated that at least an additional 25 per cent more are needed.

He conceded that smaller security agencies might not be able to provide their employees with similar career prospects.

"Some companies may find it difficult to implement the wage ladder and, if necessary, we will help our members look for jobs in firms that the union works closely with," said Mr Tan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'New wage model hopes to 'perk up' security industry'. Print Edition | Subscribe