Government announces new measures to tackle cyber security skills shortage

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has announced a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging young people into a career in cyber security, “including new apprenticeships, more civil service cyber specialists and offering cyber security training in further and higher education.”

As cyber threats increase, attacks become more common and more severe, and public awareness of cyber risks grows, businesses are taking greater measures to protect their information. Inevitably, this new interest in in cyber security has led to a demand for cyber security professionals that far outstrips supply.

Cisco’s 2014 Annual Security Report (CASR) projected a global shortage of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 IT security professionals in the foreseeable future.

Long-term strategy

The government’s National Cyber Security Programme is therefore backing new initiatives to “broaden entry routes into the profession”, including:

  • A new cyber strand to the civil service fast track apprenticeship scheme.
  • New cyber specialist apprenticeships to train young people in key skills.
  • Increasing the Civil Service Digital & Technology Fast Stream intake from 70 to 80.
  • Making cyber security an “integral feature of all computing and digital further education qualifications at levels 3 and 4”.
  • Mandatory cyber security education for all undergraduate courses accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
  • A cyber security option for the National Citizen Service.

Mr Maude said: “We need a supply of cyber-security experts for the future, so we are taking a series of further steps to attract the most gifted young people to this fast-moving area of technology.”

Short-term opportunities

While these measures will address the long-term shortage of skilled security professionals, there remains a noticeable dearth of appropriately qualified talent today, as reflected in the current job market. Employment within the technology sector is forecast by recruitment firm Robert Half to grow at nearly five times the national average in 2015; and salaries are rising by an inflation-beating average of 4% year-on-year. PwC’s 2014 Annual Global CEO Survey found that “62% of technology CEOS plan to increase hiring [in 2015] compared to 50% of the total sample.”

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