Alberta introduces mandatory training and examination for new security guards
The Province of Alberta introduced a new security licensing program, which came into effect on June 1, requiring that newcomers to the profession take 40 hours of training and pass an exam.
By Neil Sutton
The training program, called Alberta Basic Security Training, is part of the Security Services and Investigators Act which was introduced in 2010.
According to a release published by the provincial government: “The need for basic training grew out of the understanding that security services workers must possess the appropriate social and investigative skills, training, and/or experience to safely and properly perform security work. It also assures Albertans that security personnel possess the skills to perform their role effectively.
“Consistent with other jurisdictions in Canada, this new training establishes minimum industry standards that must be met before an individual can be licensed to work in the security industry in Alberta.”
The training includes: use of force, conducting interviews, basic security procedures and handling evidence. Once the training is completed, a training licence is issued, valid for 30 days. Before that time expires, a multiple choice exam, which takes about an hour to complete, must be taken. A minimum of 80 per cent is required in order to pass. In the case of a failure, the exam may be retaken, but the individual will not be permitted to work in the security field until a pass is achieved.
The training is mandatory for body guards, executive protection, loss prevention officers, control dog handlers, security alarm responders and security guards, said Jason Maloney, a spokesperson for the Solicitor General. Security professionals that achieved licences under the old legislation will not have to immediately seek a new licence, he added.
“You don’t need the training if you’re already licensed. If you haven’t been in the profession as of June 1, you need to do this training.”
According to documentation published by the province: “Persons holding a valid licence (under the old or new legislation) prior to June 1, 2011, are not required to complete mandatory training unless they allow their licence to lapse or it is required by the Registrar.”
There are also some circumstances under which a person entering the security field would be exempt from the training — if, for example, they were a former police officer and had already received training that met or exceeded the government’s requirements.
The Alberta government has published a list of individuals that are currently accredited to provide the required training. Training may be provided by educational facilities or private security companies once it has been approved by the office of Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security.
Bryan Gunn, district manager for G4S in Edmonton, says that he welcomes “any opportunity to professionalize our business and the industry” but laments that the new legislation poses pitfalls both for new entrants into the security market and the companies that could potentially hire them. Chief among the problems is the cost associated with expanded training. He estimates that the 40 hours of training cost anywhere from $100 to $250, depending on who is providing the training and how it is delivered.
“With all due respect to new people coming into the business, the majority are low-end workers. I say that respectfully. The cost they are expected to outlay to embark on a career is significant challenge,” he says.
In Alberta, where work associated with the oil industry is available, there are more lucrative alternatives to guarding. “If new entrants are forced to pay for the additional (security) training themselves, they make seek employment elsewhere. “They may say, ‘Frankly, I’ll go get a job cleaning an office block.’ In this part of Canada — Northern Alberta — frankly, as cleaner, you’ll still get paid more than a security guard will.”
Gunn says that G4S is in the process of determining the best course of action to take and how to best incorporate additional training costs into its billing model in order to take the burden off workers. Online training is a possibility, says Gunn, since it helps keep costs down.