#thinkcybersec: Reconsider Hiring Strategies to Meet 2021’s Digital Challenges

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It is time for government to open up apprenticeship and hiring opportunities for cybersecurity, particularly in the public sector, to meet the needs of the UK industry.

Speaking on a panel as part of the Think Cybersecurity for Government conference, Chris Green, head of communications at (ISC)2, cited the recent Cyber Workforce Study’s finding of a reduced UK skills gap, which found that one in five companies had a staff shortage. “They have not had the staff on hand to deal with issues,” he said, stating that there will be an increased demand as we move into 2021 due to COVID-19 “and a lot has to be done to overcome that issue.”

He called for roles to be more accessible to more people, as we need to identify and train those people. Hiring has increased but “the impact of COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and we can expect the gap to widen again as more and more companies transition to a digital environment.” Green said a lot of companies did not have the infrastructure or people in place to enable that move to a more online existence, and as a result, he expects to see an increase in the size of the skills shortage next year.

Asked by moderator David Bicknell how this issue can be overcome, Green said this can be achieved with government training opportunities, and to “make the route valuable” for those coming from the academic perspective. “Government can do more to qualify professional certifications, especially in cybersecurity,” he said.

Also on the panel was Saj Huq, director of LORCA, who said the cybersecurity field is developing so quickly “it is hard to remain agile and on top of what the changes are.” He claimed he was optimistic about the changes, and that statistics show cybersecurity is “going in the right direction” but he was nervous about maintaining that upswing. “What is clear is that cybersecurity is top of the policy agenda and we can make the right investments into the future,” he said.

Jessica Figueras, founder of Hither Ventures. said we should think about how we use people and skills in roles, and it is important to address the issue at many different levels “and clearly shortage is coming in first place.” She also called for government to increase its leadership role for innovation in order to better develop skills in the UK. Huq agreed, saying it needs to be clearer with regards how to become a technology entrepreneur, while Green said the educational curriculum should be reviewed to make computer studies less about coding and more about cybersecurity skills.

“Introduce more cybersecurity stuff at the educational level and you increase the seed of interest of cybersecurity as a career,” he said. “We struggle to bring Generation Z in, who don’t view cybersecurity professionals as inspirational or critical to society, and that is down to a lack of exposure to the role cybersecurity plays.”

Huq said: “Continued investment in innovation is important as the field is changing, and we cannot afford to stand still and we need to invest. This is not just about public money, but it means the role of industry needs to evolve more broadly as security is treated as a bolt on and insurance policy.”

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