Why the cyber security skills gap is so damaging

A report by Indeed has revealed that the UK has the second largest demand for skilled IT professionals in the world.

But what impact is the shortage of cyber security professionals having?

The most obvious effect is that it’s increasing the workload of existing staff. In many cases, employees’ time and resources are spread so thinly that the quality of the work suffers.

Employees often say that they spend so much time fighting fires, there’s no time to focus on incident prevention.

Understaffed organisations are often forced to hire people who lack technical skills and experience.

Although these new recruits can help with routine work, senior staff will need to provide on-the-job training, which prevents them performing their own tasks.

This leaves organisations vulnerable to cyber risks, which could cause substantial damage and affect business operations.

There’s another problem. The increased demand for cyber security staff has given those with the right skills considerable leverage over employers.

Someone with the right skillset could find work practically anywhere, so organisations need to give them a reason to choose them.

This typically means generous pay rises, with the average cyber security wage increasing by 10% in 2017.

Is the cyber security shortage a myth?

Commenting on Indeed’s report, Mariano Mamertino, economist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the organisation, said:

The problem is fast approaching crisis point and British businesses will inevitably be put at risk if they can’t find the expertise they need to mitigate the threat.

This should serve as a wake-up call to Britain’s tech sector – it must pull together to […] attract more people into cyber security roles.

However, some cyber security experts believe the skills shortage is a “myth”.

They argue that there are plenty of people with the skills to work in the field. But, because cyber security is treated as a separate discipline from IT, many don’t consider it a career path they are equipped to pursue.

Some organisations have begun to address this. A survey by (ISC)2 found that hiring managers were exploring new recruitment strategies in an attempt to entice previously unqualified staff.

The report states:

Individuals with non-technical previous careers often rise to become key decision makers in their organisations: globally, 33% of executives and C-Suite professionals began in a previous non-technical career.

It adds:

It will be important, if not essential, to consider the relevant educational foundations, training and professional development opportunities that support the breadth of people with potential to enter the field in order to fill the worker shortage.

Filling the skills gap

There has never been a better time to consider a career in cyber security or data privacy. 

Download your free careers guide to discover: 

  • Why there has never been a better time to pursue a cyber security career;
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  • Recommended cyber security training courses; and
  • Top tips for building a career in cyber security and data privacy – from leading industry experts themselves.