The digital landscape is continually evolving, with innovations in cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) paving the way for an increasingly interconnected world. As businesses expand their operations globally, leveraging these technologies, the risk of cyber-attacks concurrently escalates. A persistent challenge in mitigating these cyber risks is the worldwide shortage of adequately skilled cybersecurity workers – a phenomenon known as the cyber skills gap.
Understanding the Cybersecurity Demand
According to a recent report analyzed by CSO Online, the demand for cybersecurity has outpaced the current supply of skilled workers. The report scrutinizes data from over 400 million online job postings from January 2012 to June 2022, providing insights into the cybersecurity skills supply and demand. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified this demand, with many companies transitioning to a remote work model, thus increasing cybersecurity risks since many residential networks offer less protection from cyber attacks. As a result, cybersecurity failures are now among the top 10 risks since the pandemic.
The Future of Cybersecurity Workforce
The demand for cybersecurity professionals isn’t limited to major urban centers. A more decentralized workforce is necessary to meet demand in underserved areas. The most sought-after job roles include cybersecurity architects, engineers, and analysts with skills in cloud security, cybersecurity frameworks, and threat assessment. However, to close the skills gap and meet the current demand, it’s crucial for employers to broaden their horizons and consider more non-traditional cybersecurity career paths, thereby enriching the industry with a broader range of unique experiences and life skills.
Five Policy Recommendations
To address the current cybersecurity skills gap and enhance our online defense posture, policymakers, employers, and educators need to collaborate and implement sweeping changes. The report highlights five high-level policy recommendations:
- Raise Cybersecurity Career Awareness: Initiating cybersecurity career awareness from a young age can help create a diverse talent pipeline and dispel potential misconceptions. Targeting women and underrepresented groups is equally vital.
- Offer Multiple Career Pathways Within Cybersecurity Training: Organizations should offer cybersecurity training at various levels for different job roles in both long- and short-course formats. Establishing clear progression pathways between training programs is also essential.
- Build Basic Digital Skills First: Digital skills form the foundation for cybersecurity skills. Before engaging in cybersecurity-specific training, workers should first have a basic understanding of concepts like cloud computing.
- Close the Workforce Gap with Skills-Based Recruitment: Alongside formal education, skills-based recruitment can help close the cybersecurity workforce gap by reducing entry barriers for younger individuals and those with less experience.
- Employer Engagement is Necessary: Employers’ involvement in designing cybersecurity training ensures that the training aligns with market needs. Stronger links between the education sector and firms in non-technological industries are necessary, and further investment in mentorship and curriculum co-design programs is crucial.
The Importance of Diversity
Diversity is a recurring theme that overlays all these policy recommendations. A diverse workforce not only provides additional talent to close the skills gap but also enables companies to approach security challenges from various angles and identify solutions that might have been overlooked otherwise. By weaving diversity throughout the recruiting and retention process, security measures can be effective for all users, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities.
Building a skilled cybersecurity workforce requires a multistakeholder effort that brings together employers, educational organizations, government policymakers, and the technology industry. By uniting these sectors, we can pave the way for cybersecurity professionals from a variety of backgrounds to create fulfilling, rewarding careers that help make our online world a safer place.
As we continue to navigate an increasingly digital world, the necessity for robust cybersecurity measures and a skilled cybersecurity workforce will only become more crucial. Policymakers, employers, educators, and the technology industry must work together to bridge the cyber skills gap and enhance our collective online defense.
- “New report reveals tips for building a skilled cybersecurity workforce.” CSO Online, https://www.csoonline.com/article/3697790/new-report-reveals-tips-for-building-a-skilled-cybersecurity-workforce.html.