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The industry needs to rethink the way it trains people with traditional approaches failing to deliver the right results as well as turning off the next generation entering the workplace.
Classroom based sessions have been the usual route to getting people up to speed with the latest technology but the former director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan said that was not helping to fill the thousands of empty cyber security posts.
"The best guesstimate is that by 2020 there are going to be one and a half million unfilled cyber skills jobs. That is going to get worse as the other half of the planet comes on line and the Internet of Things connects more and more devices spewing out more data," he said.
"The enabling security that needs to underpin it is going to be even more challenged," he added.
He said that industry and the government knew that they had to "fix the pipeline" and get more people into training and more of those could come from a non-technical background.
In his time at GCHQ the government encouraged the organisation to go out to widen cyber skills but Hannigan said there were issues about the way training was offered.
"A lot of the cyver security training is fairly old fashioned," he added "it is classroom based, it is quite static and it can fairly often be out of date by the time it's learnt."
"We have to think differently, particularly for a nnew generation that learn different'y," he said that gamification was one of the good ways of engaging with them.
"If we are going to crack the problem we need to come up with a way of engaging with the next generation and teach them in a way they learn rather than the way we learnt 10 or 20 years ago," he said.
Hannigan was speaking at the launch of the Digital Cyber Academy which has been created by software developer Immersive Labs.
James Hadley, founder and CEO of Immersive Labs, said that it had developed a platform that allowed users to go through modules and develop their skills.
The platform can be sold to firms that want to identify potential security experts that are hiding "within plain sight" in their own organisations.
The platform is free to further education students but is sold to a commercial customer on a yearly subscription per user basis.