(ISC)2’s 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study has highlighted how the workplace skills gap, particularly the gap in the number of cyber security professionals, has grown by 26.2% in the last year. 

All Time High – But Still Not Enough 

The study revealed that even though the global cybersecurity workforce is at an all-time high, with an estimated 4.7 million professionals, and with the addition of 464,000 more cybersecurity professionals this year alone, it’s still not enough. The data on which the study is based suggests that a massive 3.4 million more cybersecurity workers are likely to be needed to secure assets effectively, and that 70% of respondents report that their organisation doesn’t have enough cybersecurity employees. 

Why The Increasing Demand? 

The (ISC)2 highlights “geopolitical tensions and macroeconomic instability, alongside high-profile data breaches and growing physical security challenges” as the main drivers of the increasing demand for cybersecurity professionals. 

Increase In Cyber Security Staff Expected 

Despite the sizeable skills gap in the number of cyber security professionals over the last year, there is some optimism as 72% of the study’s respondents said that they expect their cybersecurity staff to increase somewhat or significantly within the next 12 months. This is a very promising predicted growth rate when compared to the last two years, i.e. 53% in 2021 and 41% in 2020. 

Skills Gap Anyway 

There has long been a digital skills gap in the UK anyway which has affected the competitiveness of UK businesses and posed a major challenge to the UK government’s vision of making the UK a global technology centre. For example, back in 2018, a Nominet survey showed that less than half of UK adults have the digital skills needed to easily complete a number of common tech tasks, and in 2020, The Open University’s new ‘Leading in a Digital Age’ survey noted digital skills shortages that UK businesses and organisations faced (63% of senior business leaders report a skills shortage for their organisation) and a regional divide in those companies reporting skills shortages, i.e. more employers in the South/Southwest reporting that digital skills were in short supply.

The same survey also highlighted how business leaders felt they lacked the tech skills to manage in the digital age, with more than three-quarters acknowledging that they could benefit from more digital training. There has also long been a gap in the number of women pursuing tech careers. 

Effects Of The Pandemic 

At the end of 2020, it appeared that remote working and accelerated digital transformation deepened the disconnect around skills and it was felt that more workers needed to be equipped with in-demand IT skills. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Increasing cybercrime, geopolitical tensions, macroeconomic instability, and the complications caused by the pandemic have all increased the online security risk that businesses face and, therefore, the demand for more cyber security professionals. The challenge is that there simply aren’t enough of them fully trained or available yet in the labour market to meet the demand despite the optimism among most businesses that they will be able to find enough cybersecurity staff in the next 12 months.

The introduction of new qualifications, greater availability of cyber security courses and training could help. The (ISC)2 report also noted that some work cultural and demographic factors have complicated hiring or retaining some sections of the workforce (women and non-white employees citing discrimination). However, 64% of those surveyed for the report said that new certifications for skills growth and staying current with security trends could be a way for businesses to tackle issues such as the business cyber security skills gap. 

By Mike Knight

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