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The London-based close protection officer, security trainer and businessman Orlando Mardner tells Professional Security what he’s done in security training and what he hopes to do.
The Jamaican and indeed former Jamaican Army man moved to the UK in 1998 and began work in security in 1999. He was working doors in and around London, and for four years worked at Wembley as a superviser. He recalls that he went into training because he needed something to do when not working doors. He qualified as a teacher, ‘and cracked on from there’, setting up a business at Wembley in 2011, in good time for the Olympics. Like others in the industry, he is of the opinion that the Security Industry Authority – in terms of improving the sector – is falling short. Yes, there are a lot of people coming into security, at a basic level – after gaining level two qualifications they work in retail, pubs and clubs or do not work in the industry at all. Orlando says those with licenses have plenty of scope to progress and grow within the security industry if they are willing to dedicate the time needed to develop themselves for a career. And people can take university courses – as Orlando is doing, through Bucks New. “But unfortunately, there’s no mid-market courses for those who successfully complete a basic course … there’s no clear defined career route, giving the misconception that there is ‘nowhere to go’.” Hence the appearance of Security as a dead-end job that does not offer progression. Orlando wanted to do something about that, as indeed working doors he has had experience of it. As someone who has worked doors for years and who has the same license as a newcomer who recently received theirs, what is there to tell who is the more experienced? There’s not necessarily any difference in responsibility or the rate of pay per hour .
It’s intriguing that like others in Security and indeed other industries, Orlando has looked beyond the actual job to make change, for instance looking to introduce security and its skills to teenagers. In summer 2014 he took part in a careers day where he gave 20-minute workshops on security and conflict management to groups of 14 and 15-year-olds. He asked each what they thought Security was; the answers came back in terms of a bouncer and security guard, “and that’s it. But as we know security is way more than that. Security comes in different angles and sizes.” Hence Orlando is looking to set up a ‘specialist security college’, to offer introductory courses to security, mid-level and higher level qualifications and a link and a ladder to university level, so that those who chose security can see the opportunities to develop in areas such as security management, consultancy and cyber-security.
Through Bucks New, he has gained the certificate in security management and has two more modules and a dissertation before he gains a master’s degree. All this said, everyone has to start somewhere, and Orlando has also trained newcomers in security in Hammersmith and Fulham. The unemployed in that borough can take the course to qualify to apply for an SIA badge and have all or most of the application fee paid for. Something else Orlando wants to offer is for 13- to 15-year-olds on the line of a ‘boot camp’, bringing to youths discipline, structure, physical fitness and life skills besides lessons with a view to the young people becoming apprentices. He is interested in encouraging companies to motivate and inspire youths in this age range to work hard and reach their potential. His business was chosen by Simply Business, a UK online business insurance broker, to win a month’s free billboard advertising in the area to promote his business.
Professional Security ended by asking generally about the London economy. Besides some business being seasonal, events and festivals that require security are a market. While some contractors are doing well – they must be, as they can afford to sub-contract out work to smaller companies – Orlando, again like others in the sector, suggests attention needs to be paid to the sub-contract market. Quite apart from some larger companies treating smaller sub-contractors badly, some of that sub-contracted work is done, for SIA-approved contractors, by firms that are not approved. Do the customers giving work to the larger security companies know of that? To support the spirit of business competition, SIA-approved contractors should consider sub-contracting directly with smaller security companies, using a fair procurement process, he suggests.