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How GardaWorld fields Canada’s best-trained airport screening officers

By: Kristopher Wells
November 5, 2013

If the world’s hundreds of millions  of airline travelers each year share a single dislike, it has to be the inconvenience of waiting in airport security lines. Yet most everyone is resigned to the imposition of airport screenings as necessary to their safety.

Note: GardaWorld’s Aviation Services, provides more than half of the screening officers for Canada’s airports in both the Central and Prairies region. Kristopher Wells is the Regional Manager, Performance Programs in the Prairies Region.

 

If the world’s hundreds of millions  of airline travelers each year share a single dislike, it has to be the inconvenience of waiting in airport security lines. Yet most everyone is resigned to the imposition of airport screenings as necessary to their safety.

 

That’s why GardaWorld’s nearly 2,800 airport Screening Officers at 28 of Canada’s airports are highly trained to ensure passengers can move through their checkpoints as quickly as possible with the greatest courtesy and respect for passengers’ time and privacy.

 

Higher training standards. In fact, candidates for Screening Officer positions with GardaWorld’s Aviation Services, which staffs the airports, must go through much more rigorous screening themselves just to get hired. And, before their first day on the job as a Screening Officer, they go through 120 hours of training.

 

GardaWorld’s training is three times what the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) used to require of all its airport screening contractors. Prompted by GardaWorld’s much higher training standards, CATSA raised its new Screening Officer training requirement to 100 hours this past September 1. We consider this increase not only a recognition of our training as a best practice among all CATSA’s screening personnel contractors but ultimately also a benefit to all travelers departing from Canada’s airports.

 

Good investment. Why has GardaWorld Aviation Services trained its Screening Officer team members so well? We believe it’s a good investment—in our people, in travelers’ customer experience and in the reputation of CATSA, our customer.

 

After all, airport Screening Officers have demanding jobs. Many if not most people who pass through airport security never think about the daily challenges Screening Officers face in keeping watch for the one  person who could  carry out an attack on the air travel industry amidst the thousands of travelers whom they screen every shift.

 

At the same time, Screening Officers must deal with a constant stream of human variables and varying behaviors: passengers late for their planes; infrequent air travelers; international passengers; elderly and people with special needs; parents with crying children; and the list goes on. Yet each traveler deserves to be treated as an individual and airport customer, which is what GardaWorld’s Aviation Services Screening professionals are trained to do.

 

Balanced approach.  Our training curriculum consists of basic and advanced threat assessment training, such as how to deal with explosives, guns, knives and other threats; emergency response procedures; and basic and advanced customer service principles. This third track includes cultural sensitivity training, assisting passengers with disabilities or special needs, and handling unruly people. Other coursework involves learning best practices for workplace health and as well as the proper protocols for handling workplace harassment and violence.

 

In addition, all our Screening  Officers must take ongoing refresher training each week to reinforce the fundamentals they learned to prepare them for their jobs in the first place; to train them in new skills and best practices (and unlearn whatever protocols those might be replacing; and to avoid what we call “slippage” in applying the best practices they’ve been taught in their day-to-day shift work at the airports. All of our checkpoint and frontline managers also get extensive training in leadership, including people management and motivation.

 

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GardaWorld invests millions of dollars each year to provide its 2,800 Aviation Services airport Screening Officer’s with the industry’s best training. While the payoff for GardaWorld is being able to field Canada’s most capable and professional airport Screening Officer workforce, others benefit, too.

 

Those beneficiaries include our Screening Officers who are better able to do their jobs and enjoy what they do; passengers who appreciate the officers’ efficiency, friendliness and attention to their needs for getting to their gates on time and arriving at their destinations safe and sound; and CATSA, which can ensure its customers—the airports—that their passengers are always receiving the highest levels of security and service possible.

 

For more information about GardaWorld Aviation Services, please visit https://www.garda.com/security-services/physical-security/airport-security. If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a member of the Aviation Services security team, please visit http://www.garda.com/careers/.