n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Introducing unit standards-based education and training methodology for security practitioners - a South African perspective

Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Over the past 20 years, as the private security industry in South Africa grew at a rapid rate, there have been ongoing concerns raised at the generally low levels of professionalisation and specialisation within the broader private security sector. Furthermore, with the provision of various training courses - often of short duration and suspect quality - by unregulated or non-accredited training centres, many of the fly-by-night variety or using unqualified trainers, there have been justifiable concerns on the side of various roleplayers and industry commentators at the lack of quality control and standardisation. Originally in the late 1980s, the regulatory body responsible for the industry, the Security Officers' Board, developed standard training courses; however these were only aimed at guards (levels E-A). With the growing sophistication of the industry as a whole, and the need for further professionalisation and training beyond that of the ground-level practitioner (i e guard) level, a limited number of educational institutions developed certificate, diploma and national diploma tertiary qualifications for security practitioners in the mid-1990s, and at a later stage a degree for security management. While these efforts assisted in the further professionalisation and growth of a security manager cadre for the industry, the need for better quality control and content evaluation of all the available training course offerings in South Africa arose. In addition, the technical and specialisation demands of the changing operations of the industry as a whole placed additional demands on training providers for the industry. These changes were made in conjunction with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) requirements for the generation of unit standards by the industry Standard Generating Boards (SGBs). This process was further facilitated by the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the current regulatory agency, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (SIRA,) and the Safety & Security Sector Education & Training Authority (SASSETA - formerly the POSLEC SETA), in terms of which SASSETA would assist SGBs with the generation of unit standards as well as the accreditation of training service providers. However, these initiatives were limited to training up to SAQA level 4. In respect of SAQA levels 5-9 it remained the prerogative of the tertiary institutions themselves to recurriculate and develop new courses. This article traces some of these processes, the problems encountered, and looks at future training and educational needs that might arise in the private security industry in South Africa in order to service and provide for the ever more complex training needs of this particular industry.

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