There is a labour shortage in security-service companies, said Brian Ramsey, regional director at Amalgamated Security Services Ltd. He described the shortage as a “severe limitation” for security companies. “It doesn’t have enough Trinidadians who are willing to work as guards and who can meet the entry requirements. Some people are of the view that anybody could be a security guard and that is not true. You need certain fundamentals from the person that you are hiring.”
Some of the fundamentals an applicant must have are:
• A clean criminal record
• Pass a drug test
• Be able to read and write
Ramsey said there was one incident where 400 people were interviewed to fill positions, but only 100 were successful. The remaining 300 did not pass the drug test.
Asked how big the impact of drugs has on the recruiting exercise for security companies, Ramsey said, “Some security companies in this country do not do drug tests. I remember talking to one person, he said if I did the drug test, I would not be able to get any employees.” It’s a balancing act to source employees and keep the security business afloat. Ramsey said some companies develop the thinking that as long as the employee is not under the influence of drugs during working hours, “I am not going to ask him what he would be doing on his two days off.” Should security providers look to T&T’s Caricom member states to recruit labour? “There are people who are willing (to come to T&T) to work, but the laws don’t permit it. CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy) does not allow those types of individuals to come to T&T, but there is a need for them. We have serious need for them. There has been discussion with the Government and it is a political issue as to whether they would broaden it. CSME only allows you to bring in people of certain categories,” Ramsey said.
Trained individuals in specialised areas is another obstacle that the industry faces, as there is need to have people who can install and maintain security cameras. “The fact that you can’t get people to work forces the wage rate upwards. In the industry, wage rates have been steadily rising.” Twenty-five years ago, the industry paid $2.50 an hour. Companies with more than 250 employees are paying “well above $9 an hour. The people who would pay $9 an hour are the people who have now entered the industry. You see them sometimes, there is a house upstairs and an office downstairs,” he said. Asked if there were instances where companies had to decline contracts due to manpower issues, Ramsey said, “One doesn’t generally turn away the contract. What one does is adjust the price.” Ramsey was a speaker at the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s seminar on security on July 12.