How to Close the Skills Gap

Article by Rebecca Keen, Managing Director, Keen People Ltd

One of the most critical aspects of any business is their cyber security. Cyber-attacks are increasing at an alarming rate and with catastrophic and expensive consequences. Cyber-crime costs the UK economy £27 billion every year, and globally $600 billion, which is a rise of 0.8 percent. According to Gartner, the demand for cyber security professionals at all levels will exceed by 260% from previous years. As a specialist tech and cyber security recruitment agency, this shortage has become a day-to-day discussion for us at Keen People, and we are consistently evaluating and looking for ways as to how we can address or how we can close the skills gap.

From classroom to boardroom: cyber security is a topic discussed at all levels. Executives, and managers, through to technical staff — every employee has and other employees, all have a part to play in keeping our businesses safe. Cyber criminals do not discriminate and are not always the bad guys on the streets —, cyber-attacks can and do sometimes come from within your own business network.

There are many issues that arise from the cyber security skills gap which and presents us with a few challenges and problems to solve. Firstly, the demand for talent has increased as the use of technology has grown and become more complex within businesses. Companies require a much wider range of cyber skills now than they ever did before. Cybersecurity Ventures reports that the number of unfilled cyber jobs worldwide grew to 350% in 2021, from 1 million to 3.5 million vacancies. They also predict that in five years the same number of jobs will still be open.

The talent pool in cyber security lacks diversity. A recent study by ISC2 suggests that only 25% of the global cyber security workforce are women. With ethnic minorities representation is also being reported as significantly underrepresented. There is some hope on the horizon though, this research also suggests that millennials entering the tech space provide much more diversity in teams, which better represents the world around us. For example, 45% of women in cyber now are millennials, compared to 33% of men, proving that outreach and awareness is slowly working towards bridging the diversity gap within cyber.

Retention of cyber security professionals is another issue which has recently seen a huge increase recently. A survey by Trellix found that over one third of cyber professionals want to change careers. The With more demands on the employee’s time and the expectations to keep up with the ever-changing threat landscape demands more of the employee’s time — it is no wonder that people are looking to move sectors or industries for a more balanced and stress-free life.

As a cyber security recruitment agency who’s whose business is built around the supply of tech and cyber security professionals, we know all too well how costly and time consuming the recruitment process of these particular skills and people can be —, especially when you are managing the process in house. Even when outsourcing the recruitment, we repeatedly see all too often organisations with requiring an almost unachievable wish list of skills, certifications, and years of experience required that they would be a struggle to find all in one person. To help close this gap, companies can look toshould prioritise the skills required and be more flexible with their desired years of experience. A condensed wish list will to enable more young people or and graduates a chance to enter the profession thus bringing more people to the cyber skills table. Training and upskilling the within their own organisation can also be a cost-effective way to gain the skills required, however, this does come with its own challenges.

It is widely accepted that the cyber security skills gap exists and will continue to be a consistent issue, with the emergence of new technology and the ever-changing threat landscape which moves so rapidly. Therefore, the demand for cyber skills will always be greater than the talent pool. This imbalance will persist until we start seeing young people or and fresh graduates are , securing roles within companies.

There is no quick or easy fix for reducing the cyber security skills shortage, but however, we all must take responsibility towards in bridging that the gap in whatever ways that we can. Whilst we have seen a positive shift in attitudes across the world, and with more women and people from all backgrounds choosing the cyber pathway, it still is far from where we need to be in order to keep our businesses safe.

We need to see more of these underrepresented individuals given opportunities in the boardroom. Only then we will see a more diverse set of skills to address the cyber security agenda.

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