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The Cybersecurity Skills Gap: What it is & 3 Ways to Close It

What is the Cybersecurity Skills Gap?

When we think of anything related to issues with cybersecurity, flashes of breached! hacked! attacked! come to mind, but the cybersecurity skills gap is a very different type of cybersecurity issue. The cybersecurity skills gap is the term commonly used to capture the towering difference between cyber jobs available or needed vs. the number of qualified professionals available to fill those positions. While this isn’t a data breach or ransomware attack, this is a major issue for the cyber world because there are not enough people to help protect individuals and businesses from such attacks. As of December 2020, it was estimated that over 4 million cybersecurity professionals were needed worldwide above and beyond positions already filled. This is a daunting statistic because not only are these positions needed, but with the rate of growth businesses in all sectors are growing, cyber support needed will only continue to grow alongside it; companies across the globe now recognize that cybersecurity is just as integral to their safe operations as HR, Finance, or any other typical sect of the company. Closing, or at least significantly shrinking, this massive gap is essential to long term success of the cybersecurity industry and all other businesses, big and small. Below, we will look into four ways to help reduce this gap for this and future generations.

Hire From a Wider Pool

Many careers have very clear pathways — if you want to become a doctor or a lawyer, you have to get the right degrees and pass the necessary exams to do so. However, there are numerous paths one can take to become a cybersecurity professional. Colleges and technical institutes that focus on cybersecurity or computer information systems are obvious choices for hiring a person into a cybersecurity career, but to address the need for filling the skills gap, companies should be creative when it comes to who they hire. This is not to say that you just hire anyone who is willing to do the work, but do not limit your hiring pool to just those who have a degree or certificate in this area. While a background in the world of cybersecurity is a plus, hiring managers should look for candidates who have attributes such as critical thinking skills, adaptability, and a desire to learn and evolve. Though people’s backgrounds may not check all the traditional boxes needed for the position, having the right people with strong, motivated personalities will allow for success for both those individuals and your business.

Invest in continuous cybersecurity learning

Specific, skills-based training that benefits a career in cybersecurity can help to create the basis needed for those much needed qualified cyber professionals to fill positions, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Continuous training is essential to the success of closing the cybersecurity skills gap. It is one thing to get people trained up on how to prevent, identify, and effectively respond to issues, but cyber threats are constantly evolving and becoming harder to defend against. Inconsistent, one-off trainings won’t cut it for successful cyber professionals. This means that constant, advanced trainings on real-time and anticipated cyber attacks is essential in keeping these new cyber professionals prepared to handle their jobs.

STEM: Closing the Gap for Future Generations

STEM Education encompasses the learning disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. Schools that have adopted these into typical class agendas have become a part of the pipeline for careers like engineers, chemists, mathematicians, and cybersecurity professionals. Getting students introduced to STEM-related information early will help to create a interest, and hopefully a passion, for work in these fields and spark the intrigue that becomes a career. STEM could be the major solution that completely closes the cybersecurity skills gap in the future.

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