Why the cyber security skills gap could mean trouble for your business

British businesses could be put at increased risk of cyber attack by the UK’s severe shortage of cyber security expertise.

In a global study by Indeed of employer demand for cyber security expertise and the numbers of people searching for such roles, Britain’s cyber security skills gap emerged as the second-worst in the world.

The study reveals that the number of cyber security roles advertised in the UK is the third-highest in the world, but also finds that employer demand exceeded candidate interest by more than three times.

While all major countries studied saw fewer jobseekers searching for cyber security jobs than there were vacancies, the mismatch is especially severe in Britain, with the number of cyber security job searches in Britain reaching just 31.6 per cent of the number of jobs posted, giving the UK a skills gap second only to that of Israel.

The increasing threat posed by hackers and cybercriminals has led the number of cyber security job vacancies in Britain to rise by nearly a third (31.9 per cent) between 2014 and 2016, but candidate numbers have failed to keep pace.

Despite efforts to attract more talent into the sector, the UK is one of just three countries to see an increase in the mismatch between the supply and demand for cyber security professionals.

As a result Britain’s cyber security skills gap has grown by 5 per cent in two years, a tally exceeded only by Brazil and Canada.

At the other end of the scale, Ireland’s booming tech sector has attracted a wave of interest from candidates and reduced its skills gap by 14 per cent.

New technologies; new opportunities

Meanwhile changing technologies are reflected in the types of jobs candidates searched for. The fastest-growing subsector in the UK is cloud security, which saw job searches rise by 139 per cent over the same period.

However among British employers, the most in-demand skill is network security expertise, which accounts for 223 per cent more job postings than mobile security roles.

Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed says that 2016 saw a spate of big corporations – and even the US electoral process – suffer high-profile data breaches.

‘But beyond the headlines, cybercrime is a threat to organisations of all sizes,’ he adds. ‘As cyberattacks increase in scale and sophistication, British employers are racing to recruit staff with the skills and experience needed to protect their vital data.

‘Sadly the supply of skilled workers isn’t keeping up with employer demand, and Britain’s cyber security skills gap – already the second worst in the world – is getting worse.’

The problem is fast approaching crisis point and British businesses will inevitably be put at risk if they can’t find the expertise they need to mitigate the threat, adds Mamertino.

‘This should serve as a wake-up call to Britain’s tech sector – it must pull together to upskill and attract more people into cyber security roles.’

Further reading on cyber security

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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Cyber Security