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OSPAs webinar on accreditations

Security accreditations were the topic for this afternoon’s OSPAs thought leadership webinar by Prof Martin Gill. Speakers were, from Canada, Greg Hurd and Dana Adams; and in the UK, David Cresswell, pictured, Director at ISMI (International Security Management Institute).

Greg Hurd started the hour by saying that accreditation has been good, for the security industry and its practitioners: “I know this to be a fact insofar as the number of personal conversations I have had with folks who have gone through accreditation programmes, have come out of the other end in a much better shape than they were going into it. I know that it’s a journey, not the destination, for most accreditation programmes.”

Certification might not be for everybody, he went on; he added that he is friends withe many great practitioners, who continue to work in security, who have not gone through a certification programme, but who are eminently qualified to do their job. He pointed to three aspects of accreditation: a body of knowledge available to potential certificants; an exam of some form; and CPD (continuing professional development). As that implies, the panel agreed that courses have to be kept up to date and relevant as the industry evolves. As Hurd said: “The best sales people for programmes tend to be those who have gone through it.”

David Cresswell echoed much of what Greg Hurd said, describing himself as an advocate of professional certification; but agreed it’s not for everybody. Some hold ‘very high office’ in security management who have chosen not to follow the certification route, and have done perfectly well. Dana Adams likewise agreed with much of what the first two speakers said, adding that not all certifications have been created equal. He spoke of how a driver for certifying people in security has been the transitioning of people into security, from the military and police, and wanting to be able to show relevant certification on their resumes, to show their competence and how they continue to learn.

Questions came from the floor, as even at the OSPAs webinars. To the point that so many certifications are quoted on Linkedin and such professional social media websites, that certifications may be losing their meaning, Dana took the point, but made the case for certifications as showing substance and as a differentiator, such as the CPP (Certified Protection Professional) and similar qualifications from the international security management association ASIS. Another question or query from the floor was about whether CPP registers with HR departments that are recruiting security professionals; are security certifications valued by those in HR?!

Greg Hurd said that recruiters and HR are looking for those type of programmes, to help them find the right applicant, but added that it’s a challenge for accreditation programmes to remain relevant. He saw danger in trying to ‘mix and match’ too many disciplines such as cyber and IT security in a single accreditation, rather than sticking to the mainstream organisational security.

Another acute question from the audience was about the balance between quality and quantity – associations may want to have more quantity, because that means more income for them; but that runs the risk of a more diluted quality. Next came up remote learning; David Cresswell pointed to the price difference. Two weeks in a classroom might cost you £6000 or £7000, and only organisations with ‘deep pockets’ can afford to send staff on such a course. That the CPP can be gained through remote learning makes it more accessible, David added; and hence a ‘massive growth in demand’ for the CPP, and more employers saying that they want to hire people with certifications.

The next OSPAs webinar, on Thursday afternoon, returns to a past subject; diversity in the workforce. The panel is all-UK: Emma Shaw, Managing Director at the counter-surveillance consultancy Esoteric and a past chair of the Security Institute; Dr Fidelma Ashe, Reader in Politics at Ulster University; and Amanda McCloskey, Sales & Marketing Director at the London-based guarding firm CIS Security. You can sign up for free to attend the webinar at You can also listen to more than 100 past webinars dating back to March 2020.

More in the June 2021 print edition of Professional Security magazine.


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