In the recently completed SDM 100 article in SDM Magazine, top security dealers identified several challenges they had faced in 2022 and continue to face in 2023. But perhaps the most common issue experienced across the board was the shortage of technical talent.

Comments submitted to SDM in the survey included: 

“Like many, we have struggled to recruit and retain people.” — Paladin Technologies

“The ‘wants and needs’ for security have not gone away and to the contrary have probably increased, but it is harder to find skilled labor to help us get through the projects that we have already sold.” — Custom Alarm

“We are struggling to hire new installers. We are significantly backed up and don’t see this changing anytime soon. The short supply of workers is driving up hourly rates quickly.” — Sonitrol of Evansville Inc.

“Recruitment and retention are at the forefront for everyone and require constant and consistent evaluation to position ourselves at a high level to build and maintain our strong workforce.” — LVC Companies Inc.

These are common threads across the security industry at all levels. But the talent shortage doesn’t just impact security professionals. It also impacts their customers.

A recent study conducted by Stott and May on CISOS found that budget is the biggest barrier to strategy execution in 2023, with 66 percent saying they face challenges in sourcing talent for their business and 69 percent reporting unfilled vacancies after eight weeks. Another cybersecurity survey by CyberEdge recently found that seven in eight organizations are experiencing a shortfall of security talent.

While these studies are limited to cybersecurity professionals, physical and cyber convergence means that many organizations on both the provider and end user side are effectively competing for the same limited talent pool. 

But on the flip side of that issue there may be opportunity. With labor shortages at historic levels — the U.S. jobs report for April showed an unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent, matching the level in January, which was the lowest since 1969 — security dealers and integrators are finding more end users turning to them for solutions that can help.

“Customers were looking to leverage AI and cloud-based systems to overcome labor shortages and have employees feel safer as they returned to the office,” wrote Guardian Protection on their SDM 100 survey. “High commercial office vacancy rates have also driven more investment into cloud-based video solutions.”

The Cook and Boardman Security Integration Division wrote: “We have witnessed a high adoption rate of cloud-based solutions combined with managed services, and security manufacturers have responded. We are in a transformative environment with security technologies and the way that our clients want it delivered. We believe this will continue to expand and that the manufacturers and integration that are ahead of this will benefit from increased recurring revenue and ongoing project demand.”

And RFI Communications & Security Systems said: “We are starting to see the emergence of cloud technology as a viable option to on-prem systems. The door is opening wider for managed services to show their value on a larger scale.”

Managed services help both end users, who don’t have to hire staff to run things on their end, and security providers, who reap the benefit of the RMR. 

While labor shortages don’t seem to be going away any time soon, at least one company offered a glimmer of hope: “I think the demand for security services will remain strong in spite of possible changes in the broader economy,” wrote Frase Protection. “Hiring has been challenging, but I think it will get easier during 2023.”