The journey to becoming a locksmith usually begins with the undertaking of an apprenticeship through which one studies at the local or interstate TAFE, in conjunction with on-the-job training to satisfy what are deemed to be trade qualifications within our chosen field. In most cases, this period lasts for about four years before we are then let loose on society as a qualified locksmith to do as we please.
But then what? Does our learning and development curve cease to exist? Unfortunately, with the exception of the daily challenges of the job, it does for some individuals, just as soon as they finish their apprenticeship or vocational training.
The physical and electronic security industry, like most things in life, does not stand still for long, especially with its rapid uptake of technology. More than likely, the products, technology and even the common business practices used over the years, as an apprentice or business owner, have slowly been used less and, in many cases, they have been completely superseded.
How does one keep up with these rapid changes in the security industry? In two words, professional development.
Professional development is not just for academics and what some members of society deem as professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and accountants. Yes, professional development has, in the past, been directed at these professions most likely due to the ever-changing rules of the industry they are in, and the various bodies that govern their qualifications.
The more common professions also want to project to the public that they are at the forefront of their industry; that they are current with all their legal obligations; and that they implement best-practice procedure for their clients.
Most of you reading this obviously have an interest in your chosen careers, businesses and the industry as a whole. So why not apply the same logic as a security professional that other professionals do in their chosen fields? Consider professional development as furthering one’s career, business and personal prospects to new levels while, in some instances, also attaining industry recognition and the ability to network as well.
Professional development may be modelled on various themes with the most common being one CPD (continued professional development) points issued for every hour of development undertaken — with a goal of 12 to 16 points being undertaken every year, depending on the industry and profession.
In fact, some professions have made it mandatory to undertake CPD on an annual basis to maintain their existing qualifications. This ensures that all participants are current with product, legal, regulatory and best-practice business procedures.
Professional development can be undertaken in a formal manner, such as striving for a new qualification associated with locksmithing or the security industry itself; or an informal style, such as workshops, meetings, product training and launches that are relevant to the industry.
Contact your local suppliers and enquire about any upcoming training they will be running throughout the year. This will allow your staff to be proactive in relation to product awareness which will provide them with more tools in their selling basket when dealing with clients.
From the business owner’s perspective, you would be right in wanting well-trained, knowledgeable and driven staff to grow your business. In some instances, if your business is large enough, you may well have a HR department that can look at incorporating and driving a CPD programme for your staff.
For those of you that are not in that boat, you can still drive a CPD programme with input from your staff. Think about what existing skills they already have and, where they are lacking, sit down with each staff member and discuss their options. Provide some CPD options that are relevant to you and the business and that can also enhance your employees’ work and personal life. Once the various options have been finalised, ensure that regular reviews are put in place to maintain the ongoing commitment from both parties.
For business owners, subjects of interest may include management, sales, accounting, tax, marketing and HR. A common complaint from business owners in the locksmithing industry is that of staff retention.
Why not look at undertaking a management or leadership course to help motivate and retain your good staff? While such courses might not appear to be industry–specific, they are essential knowledge pools that are ever-changing and constantly need to be updated to help ensure one’s business success.
One highly important aspect of professional development is that of keeping well-informed about regulatory changes to the locksmith and security industry as a whole. These regulatory changes affect your legal rights and obligations as both business owner and employee. They could range from security licensing through to changes made to fire doors or handling asbestos on the job. Knowledge of these changes is crucial to ensuring your business and employees operate in a legal manner at all times.
For employees, the opportunity to undertake new qualifications or enhance their existing repertoire usually adds some drive and vitality to what can often be a stale career for some. Look at your current position and skills in conjunction with your desired career direction.
If you are currently on the tools and looking for a change, consider some short courses in sales or project management to show your employer you can take it to the next level. Don’t forget the increased demand for IT skills in our rapidly-changing industry either. Regardless of the direction or subject you decide to choose, undertaking professional development will separate you from the pack in your locksmithing career for years to come.
Overall, professional development should not be considered as work that is additional to one’s already-busy schedule. CPD should be considered as an opportunity to lift one’s career and personal prospects to the next level to ensure continued success. n
Troy Johnston has been involved in various aspects of the locksmithing industry for thepast 17 years. He is currently based in QLD and working for LSC (Locksmiths Supply Company), Technical Sales and Support, Electronic Security. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (07) 3252 1056