15/02/2017 10:55 GMT | Updated 16/02/2018 05:12 GMT

Catch 'Em While They Are Young

It is a well-known fact that there are just not enough cybersecurity professionals for businesses and governments to hire to protect against the ever-growing threat presented by professional cybercrime gangs around the world. Some estimates suggest the shortage will hit 1.5 million by 2019 as demand for cybersecurity professionals outstrips candidates by a huge margin.

Indeed according to a leading recruitment website, the number of cybersecurity vacancies in the UK jumped by nearly a third (31.9%) between 2014 and 2016 but the number of new candidates looking for roles in the industry has failed to keep pace.

Worst still given the geopolitical effect of the Brexit vote, there is a good chance the UK cybersecurity industry will also lose access to 500m EU workforce to recruit the necessary expertise for the future.

Clearly we as an industry need to do a better job to excite and encourage more young people to look to a career in cybersecurity and we need governments and educational establishments to promote cybersecurity as an exciting, and well paid career for youngsters going through schools, colleges and Universities.

So I was very encouraged to see that the UK Government have started a five year trial to encourage 5,700 school children aged 14 and over to spend up to four hours a week on lessons in cybersecurity. The classroom and online teaching will focus on 'real-world challenges' and critically work experience will be made available from September.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg and we need more of these sorts of initiatives in the UK and worldwide.

Whilst last year's A-Level results showed an encouraging 16% increase in those taking computing, it seems as if too few go on to study the subject at university, and fewer still specialize in cybersecurity.

We need more people to realize cybersecurity is an interesting and exciting career so we can have the skills and expertise for the future that we need to protect people, governments and organisations from the menace of professional cybercriminality.

It is not enough to wait for school leavers to come through the educational system to be available to work in the industry. We need good people now!

So alongside encouraging children and students to look to cybersecurity as a career we need to find people with the necessary skills and interest to retrain for a role in cybersecurity. Young people looking for an exciting and varied career like security can be retrained to fulfill vital roles in the industry. Indeed having people with a variety of educational and experience backgrounds is vital to the security industry's effectiveness to managing the ever evolving threat landscape.