Responding To The Cybersecurity Skills Gap

Posted by Kate Smedley on 5 Oct 2017

October is National Cybersecurity Month and concerns over data breaches remain high. The government’s National Cyber Security Centre reported over 1,000 incidents in its first year of operation, highlighting the problems faced by all employers. Over half of these incidents posed what has been described as a ‘significant threat’.[1]

Cybersecurity was also ranked the second highest concern for UK CEOs in PwC’s annual survey, with 97% of CEOs dealing with data breaches. The availability of key skills was the primary concern, but the two issues are linked.

A government report published in April also found that nearly half of UK businesses experienced at least one cybersecurity attack in the previous 12 months, rising to two thirds for both medium and large businesses. The NHS, Deloitte, Yahoo and Equifax are among organisations reportedly hit by data breaches in recent months.[2]

The role of HR

HR has a key role to play in the adoption of effective policies relating to cybersecurity and exposure to data breaches, in addition to building a talent pool to meet the inevitable demand for skills.  

In summary, adopting the following strategies enables HR to address the issue of responding to cyber attacks.

Introduce a company policy for dealing with data breaches. Most organisations do not have a formal procedure in place that allows them to respond rapidly and effectively to potential cyber attacks.

Appoint a Board member with responsibility for cybersecurity issues within your business. Less than one third of organisations have taken this step.

Strengthen your digital capabilities. The digital skills gap costs the UK an estimated £63 billion per year yet investing in skills training remains underfunded:-  

  • One fifth of employees lack basic IT skills.
  • Over half of employees believe that the lack of digital skills is their biggest challenge facing them in their job.
  • One third aren’t provided with digital training. The urgent need for essential skills training is underlined in a report which ranked the UK bottom of a table of 19 countries for computer problem solving skills.

Additional measures can also be incorporated to minimise exposure to data breaches. These include raising employee awareness, educating staff on how to protect their personal data and the implementation of practical measures such as installing antivirus software, ensuring strong passwords and regularly ‘patching’ firewalls.

Soaring demand for cybersecurity professionals

The ability of your business to secure its data is considered one of the major challenges – and with that comes the additional challenge of the skills shortage affecting the tech sector.

A report from Indeed notes that the UK will experience the third highest global demand for cybersecurity professionals in 2017. At present, one million cybersecurity jobs globally remain unfilled which is predicted to rise to 1.5 million within two years. An estimated third of all cybersecurity vacancies in Europe are unfilled and by 2022 it's predicted that it will have 350,000 more jobs than workers to fill them. 

Consider the following when developing hiring strategies to attract cybersecurity talent to your business:-

Higher salaries  : Robert Half’s newly released 2018 Salary Guide[3] found that salaries in technology are outpacing those in other professions. Further evidence from jobsite Adzuna supports this claim, revealing that advertised wages for tech staff have increased by 2.6% to £48,586 in the past year[4] in contrast the wages reaching a three and a half year low overall. Location also affects salary. Cybersecurity job openings in London are 20% higher than elsewhere in the UK, increasing the competition for talent. Demand is strong for candidates with skills in big data, IT security, mobile, web development and cloud.

Offer flexible working : Talented candidates are prepared to negotiate to secure the job offer that matches their aspirations, with salary, working hours and flexible working topping the list of areas for negotiation. Flexible working is also the most desirable benefit for millennials. Combined with a more attractive culture, it enables smaller businesses to compete with global brands in attract tech talent.

Diversify your talent pool : Only 7% of cybersecurity professionals in the UK are women. The use of gender neutral language, pre-hire screening through your applicant tracking software and removing screening filters ensures a fairer hiring process and reduces unconscious bias in your hiring process. Our previous article provides more information on how to attract more women into tech jobs.

Review your graduate filters : Around a third (35%) of UK businesses prioritise candidates with a cybersecurity degree or equivalent, yet many tech professionals are self-taught and often acquire new skills through experience of working on a variety of projects. Furthermore, three quarters of female tech professionals in the UK don’t possess a computing degree. Insisting on graduate calibre candidates means you may be missing out on vital talent.

Tap into the gig economy : Cybersecurity vacancies can take up to six months to fill. Hiring qualified candidates on a project by project basis provides a further talent source for your business but be prepared to pay for talent. Our whitepaper The Rise of The Gig Economy covers the key issues for your business when tapping into this vital talent source. 70% of gig economy professionals have at least 10 years of experience in their market.

Understand your data : A robust, data driven hiring process must be a given for companies serious about attracting talent to their business. The most successful companies move beyond the basics into big data and predictive analytics to build a more detailed picture of effective talent management strategies. Data enables HR to capture a complete analysis of the skills, experience and suitability of the candidates in their talent pool and offers a comprehensive understanding of the key hiring metrics in your business.

Hire the cybersecurity talent your business needs with Advorto’s world class recruitment software. Start your 30 day free trial today.

For more insight into cybersecurity, the role of HR and the issues addressed in this article, our indepth report is available to download here.

You might also like to read:-

Recruiting Tech Talent : Essential Trends & Hiring Solutions

Why HR Needs To Prepare For AI

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Topics: industry-article

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