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Demand for cyber security skills outstrips internal supply, research finds

Businesses are increasingly looking for cyber security skills, but the gap between demand and supply is still prominent

There are too few workers with cyber security skills to fill the needs of the organisations employing them, according to research by the Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute.

The research across nine countries and seven industries found that of the skills required by businesses to support digital transformation, cyber security skills are most in demand but with the least internal supply.

Almost 70% of the organisations polled claimed they were in need of cyber security skills, but only 43% claimed such skills were already present in the company.

Mike Turner, chief operating officer for Capgemini’s Cybersecurity Global Service Line, claimed firms need to “rethink” how they gain the skills they need as cyber security becomes increasingly important.

“Spending months, rather than weeks, looking for suitable candidates is not only inefficient, it also leaves organisations dangerously exposed to rising incidents of cyber crime,” he said. “Business leaders must urgently rethink how they recruit and retain talent, particularly if they wish to maximise the benefits from investment in digital transformation.”

The number of high-profile cyber attacks in recent years has made firms more aware of the importance of ensuring they employ people who understand and can prevent these incidents from occurring.

The demand for cyber skills is forecast to grow over the next few years, with 72% of leaders claiming there will be a huge demand for cyber skills by 2020.

Other skills, such as innovation and analytics, are also in demand, but the gap between the need for these skills and the number of people in organisations who have these skills is slightly smaller.

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Just over 60% of organisations are looking for individuals with innovation skills, with 51% of firms already having this talent present in their organisations. Of the 64% of firms looking for analytical skills, 40% of those organisations already have those skills in their current workforce.

Many people do not have the digital skills needed to complete even basic digital tasks, and the pipeline for supplying firms with these skills is also thin, with many graduates leaving university without the skills needed to fill technology roles.

Build-your-own security talent

To help address the current skills shortage, Capgemini suggested tactics such as making use of existing skillsets, “thinking outside of the box” and integrating security across other areas of the business.

Turner claimed half of employees are investing in developing their digital skills, and many have the transferable skills needed to upskill or cross-skill to fulfil business needs.

“Business leaders must rethink how they recruit and retain talent, particularly if they wish to maximise the benefits from investment in digital transformation”
Mike Turner, Capgemini

“Organisations that struggle to recruit externally may be able to uncover candidates with adaptable skillsets who can be trained,” he said. “Those functions with complementary and transferable skills include network operations, database administration and application development.”

Retaining cyber security employees once they are part of a firm could also help to prevent skills gaps from growing further, according to Capgemini.

Slightly over 80% of cyber security professionals agreed they would prefer to join organisations with a clear path for career development, a concern that was higher for employees between the ages of 18 and 34.

In a market where salaries and benefits are increasingly competitive to attract scarce talent, working to retain existing employees could be a step towards addressing some of the skills concerns. This would require firms to cater to the needs of employees to ensure they want to stay. This could include offering training, flexible working and an inclusive environment to encourage employees to stay.

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