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Do you need a security training needs assessment?

Most organisations know that they need to provide some amount of training to their personnel. But who to train, what to train on, and which personnel are questions that are more difficult to answer. This is where an organisation-wide training needs assessment comes in and yet it is often missing in organisation’s security frameworks.

A security training needs assessment is a critical component of a robust security framework. Through it, the organisation will make a clear assessment of which people, in which roles need which types of safety or security training, how often and why. With a good assessment, the organisation can better plan and budget for the trainings. With the assessment the organisation can decide what it will hold in-house and what it will outsource. It can more easily manage costs knowing what it can pay for and what can be provided for free. Without a security training needs assessment there can be gaps in who gets trained and therefore their competence and ability to handle situations that arise in their normal working environments. This can expose the organisation to claims of negligence should the worst occur and an employee claims they were not prepared.

Is ‘personal security’ or HEAT the answer?

Given the proliferation of personal security and hostile environment awareness training (HEAT) courses available these courses have almost become a knee-jerk response and panacea for all security training needs. Need security training? Send someone on a HEAT course. As a provider of HEAT courses, we often see organisations sending the wrong people on these courses. People who travel rarely and to environments which aren’t even remotely ‘hostile’ are sent on courses as the organisation tries tick the ‘security training’ box.

This is not to say that fewer people need security training but rather that more people need the appropriate security training. People who travel to low or mid-risk environments definitely need security training but different training than someone who rarely travels. A training needs assessment attempts to capture and assign the appropriate training based on the individual role’s needs.

A security training needs assessment also attempts to capture and address security training for those who are routinely overlooked. What security training does the organisation make available to consultants, contractors, accompanying family members or other ‘associated personnel’, or national and local staff? Are there others in the organisation who are overlooked simply because they don’t travel and therefore it’s assumed they face no security risk. (For more on this watch Kelsey Hoppe’s TedX Talk – Where is Safe?) Those who work in Washington, DC or London also face security risks. What will the receptionist do when face-to-face with a disgruntled ex-employee who has returned with a weapon, or discovers the office broken into in the morning, or is involved in a car accident while attending a meeting with colleagues, or a visitor sitting in reception collapses with a seizure. Has he been trained in an appropriate response? There also might be people who manage security who never travel at all but form a critical part of the head office’s Crisis Management Team (CMT). Or, finance people who need to understand budgeting for security, fraud prevention or cash security.

Where to begin?

The prospect of beginning a security training needs assessment for any organisation can be daunting – but especially for larger ones. So, where to begin?

A risk assessment forms the basis for any needs assessment. It might seem that it should go without saying, but to know what training an individual needs the organisation must identify what risks that individual faces in their role and ensure that the security training provided addresses these. This risk assessment should make sure to look at threats and hazards – such as crime, natural disaster, accidents and health – as well as vulnerabilities a person in a certain role might have – such as they have to work late, arrive early, be exposed to the public, or routinely operate a vehicle.

Using the risk assessment as the basis for the training needs assessment the organisation can move on to answering the questions of who needs to be trained, on what and what is the best way to do that. The best way to ensure that training happens is to work with HR to ensure that security training is part of an employee’s personal development plan.

A properly conducted security training needs assessment can help fulfill a duty of care by ensuring that all personnel are provided with the opportunity to access the training they need to keep them safe. It can also save the organisation money by ensuring that training isn't being over provided or provided to the wrong people. It provides confidence to the organisation that they have competent personnel who are confident in operating in different environments knowledgeable in handling the risks they face.

Need more help understanding or conducting a security training needs assessment for your organisation? Safer Edge has the tools for you. We can work with you to simplify the process, get you started and make sure you are confident in keeping up with training. Drop us an email at:

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