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How Security Leaders Can Close The Cyber Skills Gap 

  • by: Iulia Mihalache
  • On: 25, Apr 2022
6 min read

The pandemic forced the entire business world to pivot to online working and online business models. Digital infrastructure now supports every area of our lives, making things easier, faster, and more convenient.  

But as everyone became more reliant on technology, cyberattacks increased, taking advantage of the lessened security of people working from home.   

Cyber-attacks rose by more than 90% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in the year before, even more worrying considering that 2020 was the previous worst year on record for cyber-attacks.  

This meant that cybersecurity experts became more valuable virtually overnight, increasing demand for their skills without an influx of new talent, leaving many businesses without anyone qualified to manage their security.   

How bad is the cyber security skills gap? 

The UK’s cyber security skills shortage increased by a further 30% last year, despite the industry contributing over £5 billion to the UK economy. Cybersecurity is one of the most sought-after technical skills in the job market today, and 43% of digital leaders in a survey reported having a skills shortage in this area.   

In 2021 the UK government published a report looking at the cybersecurity skills gap in the UK. It found there is a shortfall in the recruitment pool of 100,000 people a year, meaning the cybersecurity skills gap is one of the biggest in any industry.  

It’s not just the UK that’s in trouble. Globally, the cybersecurity workforce is around 65% below what it needs to be. 

Given that many businesses are either looking to increase investment in technology or increase headcount, it’s almost impossible for them to keep pace with hiring when it comes to security. This means it’s likely that more and more of them will fall victim to cyber-attacks, as there simply aren’t enough trained individuals to protect them.   

How businesses can close the cyber skills gap 

Offer apprenticeships 

One of the best ways to close the skills gap and hire new workers is to make it easier for people to break into the industry.  

Apprenticeships are a great way of ensuring new hires have the skills you need, as your existing cybersecurity team trains them on the job. Cybersecurity requires a vast amount of specialist knowledge, and a mix of education and practical skills can help create the next generation of security specialists.  

Apprentices are often loyal to the company that trained them and may stay with you for many years.  

Increase training on the job 

It’s not surprising that many businesses are choosing to train existing employees in similar fields instead of recruiting entirely new workers. Competition is simply too great given the wide variety of companies hiring for security. 

There is now £400 million of private funding being invested into cybersecurity in the UK. Much of this is being directed towards upskilling existing employees. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, these employees have already proven themselves competent. Secondly, investing in existing employees is one of the best ways for businesses to show them that they’re valued, helping to reduce turnover.  

Training is a great way to increase the overall skill level of a team without needing to bring in a new hire.  

While technical knowledge is essential, there are other skills involved in cybersecurity that people may not immediately think of, like problem-solving, project management, curiosity, communication skills, and strategic thinking. This means employees without a traditional security background can still play crucial roles in security teams.  

Focus on staff retention 

It’s not just about bringing in new staff. Because demand is so high for cyber security specialists, the job market is always competitive. Someone with years of experience can expect to be headhunted, so if you’re not working hard to retain staff, you’re virtually guaranteed to lose staff, possibly to direct competitors.  

Despite businesses knowing how competitive the market is, relatively few reassessed their salary offers, other perks, or work culture, to increase retention.   

Improving the working conditions of your team shows them they’re valued, meaning your turnover should decrease.  

Cybersecurity is growing fast, and businesses need to focus on attracting the best talent, keeping them happy at work, and training the next generation of cybersecurity experts, if they want to stay competitive in the new digital landscape.  

Read more about cybersecurity trends, or learn why you should consider a career in cybersecurity.  


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