It’s well known that cyber security professionals are in demand for businesses across the globe as data hacks and security breaches are at a high resulting in damages to business reputation, sensitive information and financial costs.
During October, Cyber Security Awareness Month highlights the importance of cyber security for businesses and organisations, and looks at how we can support young people into cyber security through training and education to grow the next generation of specialists.
It’s crucial that we identify ways to fix the skills gap within cyber security. At Hays we recently conducted a poll on the topic, and with over 1,060 respondents, the majority (71%) said they believed barely any or only some organisations have the skills to tackle the growing cybercrime threat.
It’s concerning that in line with the widening skills gap, there is also a lack of confidence amongst the UK workforce that we have the skills and talent in place to address this. More needs to be done to attract professionals into the sector, where they can expect a prosperous outlook of attractive salaries and good career development opportunities. At present, qualified and experienced cyber security professionals are highly sought after, especially those with regulatory knowledge or project management experience.
As recruitment experts, we’re witnessing the demand first hand, with many talented professionals being tempted out of jobs in their first couple of years. Counter offers from employers who are looking to keep their staff are rife, which is also further inflating salaries.
So what creative solutions should we look at to fix the skills gap?
1. Support grassroots initiatives: It is encouraging that recently the Digital T-Level was announced as one of the first three new education programmes to be developed by the government, creating a coherent dialogue between business and schools which will hopefully go some way towards addressing the skills gap at a grassroots level. However, entry routes into cyber security roles should also expand to apprenticeships, school leavers, graduates as well as businesses up-skilling their own staff to ensure a steady pipeline of talent at a minimum.
2. Invest in contractors: In the short-term, businesses should fill their skills gap with talented contractors instead of leaving themselves exposed to risk. Although this will incur a larger financial investment, it allows space to plan for the future by growing and nurturing upcoming or existing talent.
3. Upskill staff and encourage career progression: Employers need to think long term about how they will identify, target and secure the skills they need. Being open and honest with staff who might have the skills to adapt to a security role, will be extremely rewarding for both parties. Upskilling current by providing clear career progression routes will ensure there is a good level of management and senior staff progressing through the sector in order to support younger generations coming through.
It’s clear that there are short and long term fixes which need to be addressed and it is vital that we tackle these now if we are to close the gaps and make sure we have the professionals in place who can start to make headway with cyber security.