Private security officers outnumber South Africa’s police force by 4-1.
Figures from the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) show that in 2022 there were almost 2.7 million registered security guards, compared to the 140,048 on SAPS’ books.
Given South Africa’s horrendous crime rate, this number of private security personnel comes as little surprise, particularly when the police force is becoming less attractive to recruits.
Hundreds of households are now placing their faith in private officers to protect them against all measures of crime, and with such responsibility on their shoulders personnel need to know how to respond to a raft of different situations.
Not only do they have to keep abreast of the latest security threats, but they should also have an excellent understanding of legal and ethical requirements.
Tactical skills are a must, and it stands to reason that officers need to exhibit characteristics that allow them to defuse tense situations.
With so many different aspects to their jobs, training is a prerequisite if security risks are to be reduced, illegal actions eliminated, and trust established with clients.
One of the challenges is that security companies often have branches countrywide, meaning that it can become expensive to hold physical in-person training. Guards both new and more experienced may need to be flown to other centres for workshops, trips that also carry accommodation costs.
However, thanks to the emergence of eLearning, these expenses are being eliminated as guards can remain in their base cities while still getting all the information they require to perform effectively.
There are many other advantages, too, says Michael Hanly, MD of South African learning solutions provider New Leaf Technologies.
“One of the best things about eLearning is that it is on-demand,” he says.
With crime being an unfortunate reality in South Africa, security personnel can be called on at any moment. But with eLearning, they can access training at any time since the courses are available 24/7. When they have a bit of downtime, they can simply log on and continue their learning.
eLearning software like aNewSpring is also highly advanced and offers interactive simulations that provide realistic scenarios that allow personnel to improve their decision-making skills.
But it’s not only the trainees who benefit: the learning management system gives course instructors the ability to track progress and offer assessments, ensuring personnel meet their specified training goals.
Hanly adds that from a security company standpoint, having centralised knowledge stored on the platform is incredibly advantageous.
This creates consistency that ensures every guard, no matter where he or she is in the country, is being furnished with the same training.
There are several key aspects security companies should look at when reviewing training effectiveness on an eLearning programme. These include:
- Performance metrics: Gauge how training is helping improve incident response times, for example.
- Assessment scores: Establish whether test and quiz marks are improving.
- Feedback and surveys: Find out what security personnel and their supervisors are saying about the training.
- Incident reports: Examine post-training incident reports to see if there is a reduction in security breaches or improvements in performance.
- Cost-Benefit analysis: Assess whether eLearning training results in cost savings.
Hanly says results in terms of security outcomes can be seen anywhere between a few months and a few years, though immediate benefits include cost savings, scalability and better tracking.”