There's a joke about an employer coming to his business place one morning and the overnight security guard, who was supposed to be watching the place, tells him, "Morning boss, mi dream yuh last night."
It's long been thought private security work is for those who want an easy life. They envision guards simply putting their feet up in the nearest shade and barely keeping an eye on the parking lot or buildings they are supposed to be securing. But Audrey Brown, assistant project coordinator for Guardsman Limited at Norman Manley International Airport, dismisses that.
"When I was a UA (an unarmed guard), I had to move around a lot. You have to be fit because you have to be strong to deal with the customers," she said. "Security guards are just like police or soldiers; you have to be fit to carry out your duties."
Brown also warned potential applicants that they must be capable of long periods of concentration. There is also the belief guards are 'just for show', there's no real danger. But Brown insists anything can happen.
"One day, a passenger was unwilling to show his boarding pass and grabbed me," she said. "Going into the field, you must know it can be a life and death thing."
She said she felt with the proper training and preparation, potential recruits should know what to expect.
Attractive to job seekers
If you've ever recalled the 'watchman' at your local primary school, you will remember he/she might not have been the brightest. Hence, the stereotype most guards are dropouts. But managing director of the Atlas Protection Group, Ralston Pessoa, said he believes the industry is still attractive to job seekers and noted recruits with tertiary-level education are now coming in more. Brown, who now screens recruits, outlined that it more than just about the academic qualifications.
"You look for persons with potential. Coming into the security industry, they must come in with a mindset to work, to protect and to serve," she said.
Brown said she was yet to come across any who are blindly searching for anything called employment.
And speaking of employment, industry players say the opportunities are endless.
"It's how you embrace them and how you prepare yourself to embrace them," said Overton, noting guards have moved into the aviation and hospitality industries stemming from wherever they were initially stationed.