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Cyber skills gap report

About half of UK businesses have cyber security skills gaps, according to a report for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

The report pointed to geographical ‘hotspots of activity in the cyber security labour market’. These include London, Edinburgh and Belfast, parts of the West Midlands and the south west, such as Bristol, and Cheltenham and district. Sectors most in demand of cyber talent are finance and insurance, information and communications, and professional services sectors. The technical skills areas most in demand include network engineering, risk management and technical controls, operating systems and virtualisation, cryptography and programming.

As for pay, high wage demands, and high wage differentials by sector and between London and the rest of the UK were cited by employers as problems for recruiting, and retaining. Some businesses raised concerns about people frequently applying for roles that they did not have the skills or experience to perform, and exaggerating their expertise and experience in CVs. Some cyber team heads found it difficult to align the job descriptions they were writing to particular qualifications.

As for staff diversity, the report states bluntly that the cyber sector workforce is ‘not diverse’. On gender diversity, it falls behind other digital sectors. The report adds: “Relatively few firms have adapted their recruitment processes or carried out any specific activities to encourage applications from diverse groups.”

Those most common skills gaps are in setting up configured firewalls, storing or transferring personal data, and detecting and removing malware. As for specialist cyber firms, a majority (64pc) say they have faced problems with technical skills gaps, either among job seekers or their staff. A ‘plethora’ of qualifications and accreditations make it hard to know what’s good quality.

For the full report, Cyber security skills in the UK labour market 2020, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cyber-security-skills-in-the-uk-labour-market-2020.

Comment

Jake Moore, at cyber firm ESET said: “The skills gap is intrinsically linked to the supported funding from a basic level. Financially backing projects and education from the ground up is the only way we will watch the skills gap reduce. Graduate schemes, apprenticeships and employing more new starters all help in the process too. STEM projects in schools help build a future of more skilled people but the more investment now will make the future a far stronger and better protected environment for businesses in a few years’ time.”


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