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Will The Lack Of Skills Hamper The Government Ambition For Increased Cyber Security?

03/11/2016 14:20

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond formally launched the government's new National Cyber Security Strategy, which will set out a decisive action to protect the UK economy and the privacy of British citizens, while encouraging industry to up its game to prevent damaging cyber-attacks.

Cyber security is recognised as one of the greatest threats to business around the world, with the global cost of crimes in cyberspace estimated at $445 billion, according to the World Economic Forum's 2016 Global Risks Report. One eighth of the UK's GDP comes from the digital economy, that's the highest currently in the G20.

Additionally Cyber Security is fundamental to national security. There have been many accusations of nations state sponsored cyber attacks over the past few years. As a result the government announced last year that the security services would be given 1,900 additional staff across MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to keep pace with the digital revolution.

Therefore, it is clear that the demand is significant and growing due to demand from the Government and Industry. Jobs Data from ITSecurityJobs.co.uk reinforces this demand. Cyber Security Jobs adverts have increased by 70% in the last two years and Security Skills are becoming an increasing proportion of the total IT job vacancies. Average Salary has grown by 30% in this time to £58,000.

A report from Cisco puts the global figure at a staggering one million Cyber Security job openings.

If you are thinking about a career change in 2017, then you might want to have a look at this market which is expected to grow globally from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020.

Therefore the difference between supply and demand quite simply equals skills gap.
Government needs to attract skilled Security professionals, yet following the long list of high profile data breaches in industry (Talk Talk, Ashley Madison) this creates a competitive environment where the private sector is often willing to compete for the best.

Additionally the industry is so fluid and fast moving that new challenges are constantly emerging and existing ones evolving at a fast pace. Security vulnerabilities, network technologies and software tools are constantly changing. As a result there are also great opportunities in the economy for UK companies and start-ups to provide global security solutions and consultancy.

So Phillip Hammond sets out the aspiration and the funding - however with the economy short of the skills it is fundamental that national funding is urgently placed in building the UK Cyber Security skill set, for now and the future.

To build a booming market for talent, this should include subsidised training for individuals and corporates, apprenticeships and particularly a strong effort or financial incentives to grow the take up and offerings of Cyber Security degrees. Promotion and awareness of the industry and the opportunities available needs to be wide reaching.

Price (and time) of training is often a key factor preventing new talent from entering the market and therefore, reducing this barrier to entry will result in more qualified IT Security professionals. Better training will also open the market to job seekers who maybe don't have a traditional IT background. It will also allow existing Cyber Security candidates to advance in their careers by providing them more opportunities to learn ever evolving skills. The UK Government needs to invest in the Cyber Security skills to realise its ambitions and also fuel further digital growth.

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