How The Industry Responds to the Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

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The government’s introduction of cybersecurity as a school subject for children from 2021 has hit the headlines this week, and been well received by the industry.

To hear that the Government is setting aside significant investment to teach teenagers vital cybersecurity skills is welcome news, especially at a time when there is a serious lack of digital skills and an increased threat to companies’ digital infrastructures.

Working within cybersecurity, as a recruiter for cybersecurity professionals with some of the world’s largest organisations, through to SMEs, has shown me the industry’s great demand for cybersecurity professionals now. Companies of all sizes and across sectors are desperate to protect their digital infrastructure and assets, but they are all facing a struggle to obtain the limited talent and need to act now to ensure their cyber safety.

The extent of the skills shortage & the rise of cybersecurity

The truth is, the extent of the skills shortage is not just a problem for cybersecurity, but across multiple IT disciplines. In a recent survey of 1,600 Technology professionals by my company Networkers called Technology: Voice of the Workforce, showed that over half (57%) said there was a skills shortage in their sector with cybersecurity seen as the greatest potential disruptor (47%) to the technology industry in the next five years.

With the impending General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) due to come into force in 2018, the ongoing threat of cyber-attacks, and the evolving nature of these ‘hacks’, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity is seen as such a disruptive force and that the demand for cyber experts is outstripping supply.

Upskilling the IT workforce

Many companies have realised that the threat is here now, and have taken control of the skills shortage with impressive initiatives that upskill their workforce. We have recently seen many companies starting to run their own academies to upskill IT professionals and offer qualifications. These are focused at IT professionals who have experience in positons such as second and third line support and support analysts.

In these academies, budding cybersecurity professionals are put through their paces in a controlled SOC (Security Operations Centre) environment with an experienced cybersecurity expert. This provides them with hands on experience dealing with threats and also helps to stimulate knowledge transfer from more experienced staff.

While practical experience is essential for a cybersecurity career path, companies are also looking for new candidates with certifications such as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) to provide a good foundation of knowledge. Another respected certification is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional  (CISSP).

Starting your cybersecurity career

Whilst we have seen many graduates eager to dive straight into the cybersecurity career they’ve dreamed of, it is not always possible. Another path we recommend would be for graduates to apply for junior level IT support roles. This will provide practical experience of real life problems which are valued so highly by employers, and increase the likelihood of being accepted into a related position.

This may be frustrating, but they shouldn’t be disheartened as natural career progression is fast within a skills short discipline. If you don’t believe me, take note of the opinions of your peers: our Voice of the Workforce research showed that the majority of technology professionals (64%) are confident that their career will progress in the next 12 months.

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