Employers must start broadening their search for experienced cyber security professionals to include people with the right traits rather than the right skills.
The current skills gap is estimated to result in 3.5 million unfulfilled cyber security jobs by 2021. The bottom line is that cyber attacks continue to increase in scope and frequency, and we simply don’t have the manpower to address them.
This is a critical moment, and now is the time for us to act. Enlisting the next generation of skilled cyber professionals, as well as training existing employees, will help us build stronger defences and restore confidence in regards to cyber safety.
The current problem
If demand for cyber security talent continues to increase, then we must strengthen our commitment to educating and training society in this domain as early as possible.
Luckily, today’s young adults are increasingly aware of and interested in cyber security jobs. At the same time, there’s been an increase in the number of cyber security-related courses and degrees offered at universities.
The bad news is that on-the-job training is scarce, mostly as a result of limited budgets and unclear roles and responsibilities.
Many employers falsely believe that those interested in a career in cyber security must first have a penchant for technology. The truth is, as Marc van Zadelhoff, general manager of IBM Security, pointed out, “unbridled curiosity, passion for problem solving, strong ethics, and an understanding of risks” are all qualities that would make anyone well suited for a career in cyber security. Employers must start broadening their search to include people with the right traits, rather than the right skills, in order to start closing the workforce gap.
This is particularly important for attracting mid-career professionals looking to make a career change.
The consequences of the talent gap have never been more serious; we must have a strong, informed, and ready pool of young adults capable of taking the lead for decades to come. To get there, we must encourage even more awareness and interest, enrichment activities, and career exploration incentive programs. If we do so, the improvement in closing the skills gap we’re already seeing will increase tenfold.