With the emerging trend of integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics with manpower to enhance work systems, there will be an inevitable shift in the role of security officers in Singapore, note industry experts.
While this digital transformation will free up workers’ time for higher-value tasks and creates more opportunities for them to upskill and move up in the security industry, those who lack the fundamental competencies to operate new technologies may be at a disadvantage.
These are some key findings from NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB)’s recently launched Industry Insights report on Security, which featured in-depth interviews with experts from NTUC LHUB, Union of Security Employees (USE), CBM Security, and Apollo Global Academy to uncover the trends in Singapore’s private security sector.
“To optimise headcount in the manpower scarce industry, security technology management which integrates the use of AI into its operations, allows security officers to be more competitive and productive,” says NTUC LearningHub’s Director of Technical Skills, Tay Ee Learn.
“There are four aspects that security officers need to be familiar with: Access Control Management, Alarm System Management, Robotics and Automation Application as well as Security Surveillance Management.”
Technology creates opportunities more than it displaces jobs
As the security industry in Singapore makes strides in leveraging technology to enhance and create more efficient security systems, there will be lower dependence on manpower to conduct manual work such as patrolling and CCTV feed monitoring.
Experts say that these technological advancements spell greater job prospects rather than job displacement for security officers. Some examples include the industry’s growing need for Command Centre Specialists and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle pilots who specialise in aerial surveillance.
Executive Secretary of USE, Steve Tan says, “As the security sector faces a persistent shortage of security officers, it is not likely that we will see a displacement of jobs.
“Instead, we can expect technology to alleviate the shortfall and eventually enable the roles and duties of security officers to evolve into higher-skilled roles that manage the technology and carry out more meaningful tasks.”
By the same token, Chief Trainer at Apollo Global Academy, Alan Low says, “Systems can only detect the error, but they cannot respond. Security officers will still be needed.
“Rather than taking away the job of the security officers, we are trying to uplift the security officers to a higher level so that they can perform higher-value tasks.”
However, Alan cautions that security officers must grasp the fundamentals and working principles of technologies to stay nimble, or risk being left behind. “If security officers are trained in only one product and are deployed to another area that uses a different product, they may not know how to operate it.
“Thus, it is imperative for security officers to understand the fundamentals and working principles of technologies. They will need to know how to operate the technology systems and identify basic errors to perform some troubleshooting of the equipment which cannot be limited to the scope of specific products.”
Horizontal and Critical Core Skills Remain Essential
Security officers are often the first response personnel in situations such as crowd control and dispute management. As such, horizontal skills such as Facility Management and Incident Response, therefore, continue to be fundamental to their role.
The report also outlines that Critical Core Skills — such as Digital Fluency, Problem Solving, Adaptability and Communication — are key competencies for security officers who want to remain competitive and resilient in the digital age.
Steve adds, “The ability to adapt to trends is critical as the role of security officers evolve with technology transformation. The Tripartite partners are working towards building a more holistic future for our security officers.
“We are prepared to equip our security officers with skills where they can choose to pursue a deep vertical path in security technology and have the option to cross over to horizontal pathways in facility management and incident response.”