The Cyber Security Skills Gap in the UK
Updated: May 23
There are predicted to be 3.5 million unfilled cyber security jobs in the UK by 2021 as the need for specialist skills continues to rise. In the tech sector in general, recruiters across the world are fighting to attract the brightest and best to their organisations in a race to the top to ensure big businesses are protected from malicious actors.
Cybercrime is now one of the most common forms of crime in the world and as technology advances the techniques of hackers become more sophisticated. This has led to such a stark skills gap due to the inability of the market to continually master new technologies at the same speed as vulnerabilities are discovered. Many companies are eager to revolutionise their workplaces with the latest cutting edge products without considering the significant security measures that need to be taken to secure them.
For those with an interest in cyber security, most of the experience needed to fill highly specialised roles is gained in employment, as only a handful of higher education institutions offer dedicated cyber security courses. The disconnect between education and market need can be clearly seen in the fact that 53% of organisations are not confident in their ability to conduct penetration testing while only one course listed on UCAS mentions penetration testing in the course outline.
In addition to the lack of higher-level skills training, the industry also suffers from dramatic gender inequality, with women making up only 17% of the UK tech force and 16% of all cyber security students for the year 2016/17. As with many other STEM subjects, cyber security will need to shed its ‘boys’ club’ image in order to attract a diverse range of talented minds to fill the much-needed gaps which are only set to widen.
Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing industries, with applications in every other sector of business from agriculture to education. In order to ensure that the labour market grows at the same rate as demand, higher education and recruitment will need to work together to ensure that talented individuals are given access to the training they need to tackle the industry’s biggest problems.