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Hiring cyber security and big data experts named top priority for IT recruiters in 2017

Research suggests IT professionals with expertise in cyber security and big data could find themselves in high demand in 2017

Cyber security professionals can expect to find themselves in high demand during 2017, as research suggests individuals with those skills will be most highly sought after by IT recruiters.

That’s according to joint study from recruitment consultancy Robert Walters and Jobsite, which suggests nearly half (47%) of hiring managers expect to increase the number of IT workers they employ during 2017.

The organisations surveyed 700 senior technology professionals about their 2017 recruitment plans to compile their Technology and Recruitment – The Landscape for 2017 report.

Their findings suggest IT workers with a background in cyber security will be in highest demand next year, with 54% of respondents setting out plans to embark on recruitment drives in this area during 2017.

The organisations said, with data breaches continuing to make headlines throughout 2016, demand for cyber security professionals is likely to rise in enterprises, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups over the course of the next 12 months.

Ahsan Iqbal, associate director for technology recruitment at Robert Walters, said: “Specialists in cyber security have been highly sought after by employers over the past year and this trend is set to continue into 2017.

“With a limited supply of candidates with the required skills, competition will be high among employers to secure the best candidates,” Iqbal added.

Individuals with business intelligence (BI) and big data experience are also expected to be in high demand next year, with 36% of participants setting out plans to recruit people with these types of expertise.

According to the survey, this is on the back of a growing awareness among employers about how their businesses stand to benefit from having access to big data analytics tools and skills.

Read more about recruitment and skills shortages

Lee Allen, sales director at Jobsite, said demand for big data skills is particularly acute in certain industries, including healthcare and manufacturing.

“As businesses look to increase market share and drive cost efficiencies, analysis of external and internal data is becoming more and more prominent,” said Allen.

“Demand for BI and big data specialists is particularly high from employers in fields such as FMCG, media, automotive and manufacturing, with employers competing to secure top talent.”

To boost their chances of attracting the best candidates and retaining the ones they do have, 69% of respondents said they will be offering flexible working conditions, alongside opportunities for career (54%) development and training (53%).

“Competitive salaries will be essential to attract the best candidates, but employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of other policies, such as flexible hours, the option to work remotely and the potential for long term career development,” said Iqbal.

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It is estimated, however, that there are already ten vacancies for every genuinely skilled and experienced cyber security professional. The gap is being filled by shamateurs who can tick the boxers of some basic qualifications and "seriously exaggerate" the claims in their CVs. Hence the importance of plans to improve the supply of intensive blended programmes to give the necessary technical skills to older IT staff and users with the necessary aptitude.   
We are seeing a high volume of vacancies in the Cyber Security market. There is a skills shortage in the market that is inflating salaries. What this doesn’t tell us is a true representation of what can be done and is being done to realign the supply and demand needs. Organisations need to look outside the box and start thinking about what security is in their organisation by creating a learning culture. This sounds obvious but the amount of times we see job descriptions that are not aligned to the actual resource required to do the job is very high. By defining where security should sit (is Security technical? Is Security governance?) workflows can be created more accurately. Security starts and stops with people.  You may have the best technical kit in the world but guess what you still have to educate the individual in how to use it.