A closer look at the European security landscape

A closer look at the European security landscape

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Peter French MBE CPP FSyl, Managing Director, SSR Personnel analyses growth patterns, challenges and opportunities within the European security industry.

ISJ June Edition Exclusive

Wage growth and opportunities across Europe 

Among Eurozone’s largest economies, wage growth has slowed in Spain and Italy against an average 2.1%, while Germany decreased (-1.5%) – but wages rose faster in France (4.4%) (EUROSTAT).

21 EU Member States have national minimum wages, making Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden the exceptions. Monthly minimum wages are below €1,000 in 13 EU countries and above €1,500 in six. Switzerland has no national minimum pay rate; the City of Zurich voted this year to implement its own minimum wage of €4,000 per month. Luxembourg has one of the highest GDP returns at €142,000 per person and average salaries in the top median of countries.

In the UK, minimum wage increased to €1,850 from April 2023. Pay, excluding bonuses, in the UK rose by 6.7% in the three months to December 2022, its fastest increase since records began in 2001. Wage inflation in 2023 will settle in the range of 4-6.5%. Bonuses, driven by the Financial Service sector recorded increases up to 40%. Eurozone inflation dropped to 8.5%, wage growth at a mid-management grade is around 5.2%

For many, changing roles has not been a priority in the past three years. Job security has been most people’s major concern. Employees have also changed behaviours, getting on with the job at hand; agile, with reduced resources, ensuring that their job function has delivered for the business.

For the first time in ten years in our annual salary of 14,000 security professionals, 27% reported that their salary has increased through job evaluation review, which for the first time, outpaced the broader based annual review that most employees would be rewarded by.

Dealing with skills that are in short supply

Across industries, creatives, manufacturing, financial services and more, over four million vacancies were advertised monthly in the first quarter of 2023; a significant number against a backdrop in many countries of low unemployment. When asking security leaders the significance of hiring talent, most reported that it is one of their top corporate priorities and the majority have increased budgets for upskilling existing personnel.

This is in tandem with a change in spending, decreasing guarding costs, whilst increasing physical security protection budgets. Respondents confirmed a correlation with vendor performance and a post-pandemic realisation that security protection can be delivered in less labour intensive ways.

There has been a growth in analyst employment; delivering environmental geopolitical predictions and competitor analysis are just some of the areas that security departments are adding vigilance to the corporation. Some of this is possible through big data machine learning and, increasingly, AI predictive learning. There are also greater third party resources that can formulate styles and prediction parameters, accessing paid and publicly accessible databases.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG)

Security professionals have a substantial role to play in the ESG agenda – if they wish to. Most CSO’s have a solid line into the components that are measured; sustainability of the corporation, supply chain, business resilience, loss prevention, health and life safety. Societally, around direct actions in manufacturing, such as regarding human rights, third party use of product and, therefore, branding.

For activist investors, ESG will guide investment strategies; for talent attraction channels, many younger generations have an interest in future employer standing as they want to work in a credible organisation that shares their values.

At a recent conference, an ESG consultant was bemoaning European food giants whose response to their own environmental responsibilities was to direct the farmers’ co-operatives of developing countries to undertake local initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, so they could claim the supply chain reductions. The societal benefits would have been for BigCo to invest in local projects that delivered benefits across the community, bringing multiple levels of gain where benefit can be measured by community health.

Cybersecurity growth

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of people working in cybersecurity across Europe as there is no central repository of employment data for this field. However, according to a report by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), it is estimated that there were around 715,000 cybersecurity professionals working in Europe as of 2020.

This figure includes both public and private sector workers and it is expected to have grown above one million workers as the demand for cybersecurity expertise continues. According to a recent report (ISC)², there is a shortage of 291,000 cybersecurity professionals in Europe. From our Middle East survey, there are globally 4.8 million cyber vacancies. 

At the UK National Cyber Security Centre CYBER Conference, tech entrepreneur Hermann Hauser emphasised the importance of collaboration: “If you look at all the nations in the world that have a working innovation system, it is all based on the interaction of universities, the government and the finance community. It’s a team sport; if technology startups are a team sport, you’ve got to have all these players working together”.

Hauser further predicted that innovative technology companies and startups will help grow economies; growth comes with innovative breakthroughs that come out of universities or big research labs. The ecosystems that now exist are the basis that allow you to build these companies much faster now than ever before.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Recent news and the number of tech entrepreneurs citing the dangers of AI, and the resignation of senior Google scientist Geoffrey Hinton, known as the “godfather of AI,” simply highlights how the world is unprepared for nefarious use of AI.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have bridged their differences and reached a provisional political deal on the world’s first AI rulebook. Given the impact of GDPR, and sizable fines the EU levied that continue to be applied, this will be a concern to corporations. They cannot ignore the dangers of the wider application by third parties of their AI technology.

In the EU, having championed personal privacy, citizens may just be protected from some AI misuse. Elsewhere, the US is relying upon a clause in law that is 20 years old and the UK cannot get privacy legislation onto the statute that will adequately protect people from the misapplication of AI. The EU should be considered a beacon of hope, establishing legislation that will have teeth. This is an area of responsibility that security professionals can add value to, in interpretation, seeking desist orders against the perpetrator and, if settled in the EU, damages for their corporations.

Technical convergence: Nobody fully understands the long term impact on productivity and employment from the application of AI. Goldman Sachs just issued a statement that 300 million jobs may disappear. Much the same was predicted for workforces with the introduction of word processors in the 1990’s.

If you consider how many new roles are being created through the innovation of “tech” just in healthcare, there will be a vibrant economy. Some central European countries will, through their education of STEM subject graduates, with a higher proportion of female students, offer a more creative near-shore business services opportunity for organisations.    

This February Statista reported that the Metaverse in 2023 will produce $490bn in revenue through gaming, education, digital media, live entertainment and virtual real estate. That leaves opportunities for criminal activities, when all that has so far been prosecuted in civil litigation has been for IP infringement. 

A world mega project in Europe

The Ten-T core Transportation System is building a reliable, seamless and high quality trans-European transport network (TEN-T); this will ensure sustainable connectivity across the European Union without physical interruptions, bottlenecks or missing links. The European Council has adopted a common position regarding the Commission proposal for a regulation on EU guidelines for the development of the €600bn trans-European transport network.

The network will contribute to achieving the EU’s sustainable mobility objectives, the proper functioning of the internal market and the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU. It is intended to be developed step by step, with proposed deadlines in 2030, 2040 and 2050. The proposal therefore sets clear deadlines for the completion of the trans-European transport network.

Workforce management

Changing demographics worldwide are creating a labour market in which five generations coexist. For the first time in history, multiple generations are working side by side. With more generations in the workforce than ever before, the workplace values and working styles are changing.

Understanding this multigenerational workforce and its implications will be essential for driving innovation, creating united and productive teams and adapting to the future workplace. It is important that employers do not create an environment that promotes or excludes one generation over another.   

GetSmarter conducted research that surveyed 8,000 respondents from over 106 countries. Their ‘Future of Work Is Here’ report provides significant insights into the current and future impact of disruptive and convergent forces, helping global business leaders and organisations to uncover meaningful tools for navigating change. The knowledge of how different generations can work together and the ability to manage their collective differences, will be a critical factor in achieving business success.

About the Author

Peter French MBE CPP FSyl is Managing Director of SSR Personnel and Executive Profiles, one of the leading recruiters of corporate security and technical personnel. In July 2019, Peter was honoured with the Root & Branch award by the City Liveries Club for his ongoing work with the Livery and Charities. Peter has been a member of the Chartered Security Professionals Register (CSyP) since its inception in 2011.

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