The times they are a-changing, and with an increasingly aged population comes opportunity and challenge. David Ward of Ward Security looks at what age means for the security industry.
The world is a rapidly changing place. It’s also a well measured place, and there is a wealth of information and data to tell us where we are and where we’ve been.
Just as with other industries, the security industry has access to a huge amount of data about current and historic size of the market and growth areas, and this is typically what we use to help inform how we measure performance and success, and also how we develop, both as an industry and as individual businesses.
However, do we rely too heavily on industry specific measurement and data? What other data is out there that can help us predict with reasonable accuracy what tomorrow’s growth areas, opportunities, and indeed challenges are?
One of the biggest changes and challenges in society is age. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently warned that within the next 15 years, 24 countries – including the UK – will become ‘super-aged’, having more than 21% of the population aged 65 or over. That’s a big demographic change that will impact on a great many areas of life.
Elderly care is becoming a significant growing cost to society. The care industry is already in panic mode, with many care home operators struggling with funding and a government looking for ways it can move the funding problem elsewhere. Yet the number of registered care homes (most privately owned) grows year on year and will continue to grow, both in number and size. So is this something we need to be looking at as a potential opportunity? Care homes need security, they also need to remain as efficient and cost effective as possible. Is there a way the security industry can step in to help square this particular circle?
Age also impacts on the workplace. Three years have now passed since the end of the default retirement age of 65. According to figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, more than a million people over that age are currently in work in the UK.
Offices, shops, factories – all will become noticeably older; both the people employed and customers. As employers we in the security industry can also expect to see the average age of applicants rising steadily, while more and more existing employees will look to extend their careers well beyond the age of 65. Are we ready for this? What roles do we have to offer the more mature applicant? How can we support existing staff if they choose to stay with us? What new models of security can we develop to suit an increasingly aged workforce? Do we need to develop new ‘low risk’ security markets and posts that our employees can move into as they age?
It’s going to become harder to attract younger people as they shrink as a percentage of the wider population. This will make them a more valuable commodity to a wide range of competing industries, so we might not have the option.
Will an increasingly aged society have an impact on crime? It’s easy to assume that having more elderly people will mean less crime. But can we be sure? Perhaps only the nature of crime will change. The recent spectacular Hatton Garden heist proves you can’t necessarily trust older people to stick to their cribbage boards. It could equally be that more crime is targeted at older people.
It’s too easy for any industry to be fixated on the moment, and indeed it is understandable. But we need always to keep an eye on the future and on wider trends in society to ensure we are not knocked off balance by inevitabilities.