Surge in electro-mechanical hardware and integrated building systems means locksmiths need ongoing training in more areas than just the mechanics of the locks, says Allegion UK Commercial Leader Pete Hancox.
In the UK, locksmiths come from all walks of life, taking a variety of routes to join the trade. Ask any locksmith about how he or she got started, and then go and ask another, and you will more than likely get two different answers – whether it was via supplier-led training courses, a locksmithing apprenticeship, being an understudy to a practicing locksmith or through traditional employment.
Although MLA was the first to offer a recognised apprenticeship, it took a significant amount of time for the government to recognise locksmiths as a profession. As of June 2017, details are still being finalised between the MLA and the government to re-develop a ‘trailblazer apprenticeship’.
This is in stark contrast to other professions where wellbeing is concerned. Take gas engineers, for instance. Gas engineers in the UK, according to leading jobs website reed.co.uk, must have relevant qualifications, usually an NVQ Level 3 in Gas Installation, and also be Gas Safe registered. Apprenticeship is a common route for attaining a gas engineer position, too.
This lack of regulation has given existing locksmiths a very diverse range of skillsets and experience. Of course, diversity is welcome, and diversity is known to bring outside-of-the-box solutions. However, when we start comparing the two professions, we can start to see how gas engineers will be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet,’ whereas our locksmiths could be working from all manner of different pages.
For the future of locksmithing, this very diversity could potentially be harming our buildings and our occupants’ wellbeing, as opposed to aiding them. We could be creating an environment where knowledge levels, procedures, best practices and the way building hardware solutions are selected are all different and varied.
While it could be years before we reach a standardised route similar to that of gas engineers, we should at least be encouraging our locksmiths to complete ongoing training, particularly to keep pace with daily developments.
The Electro-Mechanical Game Changer
We are now coming to a stage in the door hardware industry where development is rapidly overtaking existing knowledge. Electro-mechanical ‘smart’ hardware means the ability to unlock doors from phones, control access to secure areas and remotely lockdown, are all feasible and affordable functions which are being sought after by building managers.
Fully integrated building solutions and biometrics are also becoming more commonplace, and forward-thinking estates managers and architects will be thinking about scalability for the future.
As with all training, there is an associated cost. It can be hard to see past this cost if benefits are viewed as minimal or not even applicable to current situations.
For locksmiths who have conventionally worked purely in mechanical locks, it is even harder to see why they themselves will need training in disciplines such as biometrics or computer-aided systems, when traditionally these applications have only been used in select, sensitive buildings.
For more, visit www.allegion.com
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