Social Dialogue : CoESS and UNI Europa adopt new Work Programme

The change of services, market demand and a persisting labour and skills shortage put increasing pressure on the private security sector across Europe. CoESS and UNI Europa have therefore made the topic of education and skills the top priority of their Work Programme for 2020 and 2021. The European Sectoral Social Partners for Private Security adopted the programme at their Social Dialogue meeting on 04 February 2020.

The new priority-setting is also a consequence of the findings of the joint CoESS-UNI Europa and EU-financed ‘Anticipating Change’-project, which identified education and training as one means to effectively anticipate employment change in the private security sector. In their Work Programme, CoESS and UNI Europa now pledge to focus their work in Social Dialogue on soft skills; technology and re-upskilling; conflict de-escalation; and equality and diversity training.

Possible actions can include a mapping of available e-learning tools, such as the “Train Brain Soft” tool, which was presented during the Social Dialogue meeting by Catherine Piana, Director General of CoESS. The tool, funded by Erasmus+, aims to improve basic and transversal competences in a lifelong learning perspective – including skills in communication, professional stress management, and human rights. The tool was developed by the Confederation of Norwegian Service Industries and private security chambers and associations in Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania.

Mark Bergfeld from UNI Europa also thanked CoESS for the recent Joint Statement on the Skills Agenda for Europe, which provided a valuable follow-up to Social Partner activities on education and skills in the past year.

During the meeting, trade union representatives from Belgium and Finland presented good practices for training frameworks in private security. Like in many other countries, the Belgian and Finnish private security acts foresee the provision of additional skills and qualifications to basic guarding, which reflect the change and quality of services in the sector – for example on event security, technical security systems, and transport security. Importantly, Social Partners play a crucial role in the set-up of such training frameworks in both countries.

Still, the challenge between increasing market demand and the shortage of available, skilled guards persists in many countries. This was also highlighted by a presentation of a French trade union representative on the challenge that the Rugby World Cup 2023 and Olympic Games 2024 pose to the sector in France. CoESS’ French member, GES, already reported back in December 2019 that the massive recruitment of 20.000 to 30.000 additional security guards would currently not be feasible. The speaker stressed that for such mass, high-profile events, guards need to receive additional training such as on crowd control, which goes beyond basic guarding qualifications.

In the upcoming two years, Social Partners will also collaborate on a range of regulatory developments and standards. Eduardo Cobas Urcelay, President of the CoESS Social Dialogue Committee, confirmed that CoESS is committed to jointly build on past successes, such as the joint statement on safeguarding cash, and to address new challenges together. He reminded participants that the private security industry is subject to a range of European legislation. These will not only include social and public procurement policies but increasingly green topics.

Mark Bergfeld added that UNI Europa is looking forward to also cooperate on the revision of Directive 2008/114 on European Critical Infrastructure (see CoESS’ position paper here).

The Work Programme can be found here.