SIA, N.J. college to launch security degree program

Goal is to develop work-ready college grads, expand program nationwide
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Monday, January 21, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In an effort to increase the number of well-qualified job candidates for security integrators and manufacturers, the Security Industry Association is working with Mercer County Community College to launch a new security systems and technology degree program.

The program will lead to an associate’s degree in applied science. Students are expected to be able to sign up for classes in the fall of 2013 at Mercer, which is located in West Windsor and Trenton, N.J. If the program is successful, SIA expects other colleges around the country to adopt it.

SIA CEO Don Erickson said he hears from SIA members all of the time that they cannot find enough qualified installers, technical support and sales personnel.

Secondary schools don’t have enough “consistent training in disciplines related to physical security,” he said. This degree program aims to change that. Graduates would be better prepared for the work force and for other certifications, such as SIA’s certified security project management (CSPM) program.

The new two-year degree will combine security-specific training, liberal arts and business classes.

A SIA committee came up with the idea for the program last summer. Key participants on that committee are Dave Lyons of System Sensor, Pierre Trapanese of Northland Control Systems and Frank De Fina of Samsung.

As the industry “aggressively moves into IP, these new [degree-holding] professionals will be well equipped to fill upcoming positions,” De Fina told Security Systems News.

De Fina said the new degree program will expose young professionals to the security industry, an industry that most college students do not know about.

“The problem is that the bright talent is snatched up by IT conglomerates. This move will dramatically reduce the time it would take a prospective employee to get on board,” De Fina said. “Rather than training on an as-needed basis, the employee can already be established with business and technical skills.”