Security company develops own tech to reduce workload, cut costs
EVEN as it continues to improve its offerings, local security company Acestes is a firm believer in upskilling its staff to reduce their workload and boost their productivity. The firm has developed its own condominium visitor management system (VMS) that lowers both security officers’ workloads, as well as clients’ costs, with help from the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit scheme (SFEC).
Drivers simply key in the number of the unit they are visiting at the physical VMS kiosk. The barrier then lifts, allowing the driver to enter and park – all without the need for a security officer to be stationed there.
“It reduces their workload, and they are freed up for other tasks. Facilities always want to save money, so we recommend this technology to them. Previously if they needed 5 officers, with this technology they now only need 4, which brings their costs down,” said Adrian Pereira, director of corporate development and capability building at Acestes.
The company has about 100 staff, with 90 per cent of its clients being condominiums and the rest being commercial buildings. It offers physical security services, security technology solutions, security skills training, security consultancy, as well as private investigation and claims adjusting services.
The VMS took a year to develop together with a vendor. Rolled out in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now deployed at 3 condominiums, said Pereira.
“All the projects that we have undertaken are meant to uplift the service standards of the workforce and company,” he said. “We are grateful for any government subsidy or funding in view of the rising costs of doing business.”
The government-provided SFEC is a one-off S$10,000 credit that covers up to 90 per cent of out-of-pocket expenses on qualifying costs for business and workforce transformation, for eligible enterprises. This is over and above what existing schemes provide.
Having used some of this for the research and development of its proprietary VMS, Acestes plans to use its remaining SFEC credits to send staff for SkillsFuture training courses, especially those related to the security industry.
Acestes is also a participating employer in the SkillsFuture Work-Study Programme (WSP), offered by Institutes of Higher Learning and SkillsFuture’s appointed private training providers. Under the programme, fresh graduates from the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE), as well as mid-career individuals, get a head-start in their careers through work-study arrangements. Host employers can receive a grant of up to S$15,000 per trainee to defray the costs of developing and providing structured on-job training.
Under the WSP, Acestes has worked with Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, and Temasek Polytechnic, as well as ITE Central and West colleges. The tenure of the programme can range from 6 months to a year, with students working for a salary and continuing with their studies simultaneously, Pereira noted.
Acestes also works with the Singapore Institute of Technology and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation to provide conversion opportunities for PMET (professional, manager, executive and technical) workers who are seeking a career change.
Acestes is itself a SkillsFuture-accredited training organisation, with trainers who can prepare fresh entrants for the industry. Under Singapore’s licensing system, security officers must pass 3 basic courses to obtain their licence.
To keep their officers up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry, Acestes has 6 in-house e-learning courses conducted throughout the year. It also deploys on-the-ground patrollers who conduct weekly site visits to engage security officers, training them and inducting newcomers to the job.
“Many people came to us for jobs during the onset of Covid-19, especially mid-career workers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic,” Pereira said. “Although our company is primarily a business entity, we have a strong social mission of providing opportunities for Singaporeans to regain their self-respect and a better livelihood for themselves and their families through stable jobs and increasing income.”
Some highlights of the company’s history include providing security services for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix from 2016 to 2019; Christmas in Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay in 2016; and a Guns N’ Roses concert at the Changi Exhibition Centre in 2017.
But the industry also has its challenges. Pereira noted that some people tend to “look down” on security officers, with many cases of abuse against officers recorded in the past.
“We are very happy that the government has brought in the progressive wage model and also certain laws to prevent abuse against security officers,” Pereira said. “Now all of our officers also wear body cameras.”
The company works with the Singapore Association of Security to highlight the various concerns that security officers face at work and “push the quality of security up” in the industry, he added.
This feature is brought to you by SkillsFuture Singapore.