One area where COVID-19 has been impacting upon is the private security sector. The sector has been definitely affected but unlike many other enterprises/institutions whereby most of their employees have been rendered redundant. Even during the hardest times of the pandemic, private security firms have been providing security to the general public and business operators like supermarkets and other essential businesses. They have been in the frontline helping in crowd control and enforcing social distancing rules. One of such entrepreneurs is Abdoulie Jeng who lives in Nottingham but runs a security company in Leeds called Northern Guarding Services Ltd. In this interview with Mojatu Magazine, Mr Jeng dwelt into very important points which are highlighted below in the question-and-answer interview: –
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, how would your assessment of the situation look like compared to pre-COVID-19?
Our Industry has not been badly affected that much except for the risk of delayed payments from clients and potential clients. In circumstances where payments are delayed, we struggle to pay our staff and also to keep them under our payroll because they have their families to support and bills to pay. Such situations impact directly on our relationship with staff and clients.
How has COVID-19 affected your business and you as an individual?
Events and retail have been almost half of our turnovers. The COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed these industries hence reducing almost half of our business reach. Imagine how hard the sporting sector has been hit and this an avenue where we had been relying on very much. Stadiums are closed and sporting events such as football, cricket, basketball, athletics to name a few; are now holding their events without spectators. We are contracted with the responsibility of controlling the crowd and ensuring that everyone is safe and secure during these events. Am sure the athletes miss the fans and while the fans also miss them, we miss them too because their presence help us pay our bills.
Many employees in the security sector come in close contact with the public thereby exposing their vulnerability to catching the virus. Do you share this view?
Yes, however we have been able to implement most if not all of the government guidelines and recommendations to be able to legally operate. Evidently, it is quite hard to avoid coming into with the public since our employees are task with controlling the crowd within the premises and entry and exit points. They also intervene in instances where the public is not adhering to the social distancing rules especially in pubs, supermarkets, and other outlets. These are all factors that lead to exposing them to the general worries of coming into contact with the coronavirus.
Many small-scale enterprises and companies have been consumed by the impact of COVID-19; do you think they can have the chance to revive from this slumber?
It depends on their core business operations. By that I mean, those that were heavily reliant on an industry that is in the events, food and entertainment may find it hard to revive but those in the construction and corporate sectors will most likely revive once the country is back up and running. I am hopeful the revival will happen for most due to the government’s financial help for small businesses.
What is your prediction of first quarter of 2021?
I am not expecting much change considering the recent increase in the virus for most and the implementation of these tier systems. The restrictions are quite bad for business and will take a longer time to recover from. My prudent prediction is therefore we may be in this till the final quarter of 2021
What kind of recovery strategy would you like to see take place in order to salvage this global crisis?
A relax of Corporation tax and VAT increase which is a subject most governments in the world are considering. Most small businesses barely make enough. A rise in tax will be catastrophic to continuity of operations.
What would be your advice to both job seekers and job providers?
Job seekers should take on continuous training in different fields, keep their CVs up-to-date and diversify their employability network. The more competencies in various skills, the higher the chances of securing employment. Job providers, likewise, should stay up to date with government guidance and implement all the recommendations given thereof. This will help them continue operations and keep their workers safe which will play a great role in the economic recovery.
Do you have a message to give to the general public?
Let us all look after each other by staying at home when we can and keep following advice from Public health providers. This is a once in a century virus hopefully and we will weather the storm together.