Train Employees to Fill Cybersecurity Talent Gaps

Cybersecurity touches every industry and every person. The banks we use, the stores we shop at and our health care providers have a growing need to protect their cyber information. Manufacturers, our local, state and national governments, and our military all depend on cyber information being safe. Cybersecurity touches every aspect of the vastly interconnected world.The need for cybersecurity personnel is growing.  (ISC)2, a membership association for cybersecurity professionals, estimates that the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145 percent. That means a demand for an additional 4.07 million trained professionals, globally. In the US, alone, the cyber security workforce needs to grow by 62 percent.

This need creates some problems for businesses, agencies and organizations that are trying to keep information secure. Since 2013 job postings for cybersecurity positions have increased 94 percent compared to a 30 percent increase in postings for overall information technology jobs. The demand for workers far exceeds the available talent. Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that by 2022 there will be a 1.8 million worker shortage.

Many of these future cybersecurity professionals may be right there, working in plain sight. The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study says current workers could help fill the skills gap. “It is not uncommon for cybersecurity workers to arrive at their jobs via unconventional paths. The vast majority, 87 percent globally, did not start in cybersecurity, but rather in another career. While many moved to cybersecurity from a related field such as IT, many professionals worldwide arrived from a non-IT background.”

If businesses are transparent about the skills their cybersecurity professional need, they may be able to build a workforce more efficiently from within, rather than looking for additional workers from outside their business. Many workers prioritize technical education and skills when they are pursing education that will help them change fields. But actually, human skills such as communication, problem-solving and leadership are the most in-demand in cybersecurity, as well as in the total labor market. A career path that outlines the skills workers need help employees transition to cybersecurity position.

The (ISC)2 report says that many businesses can tap into employees that are interested in developing skills that will help them move into cybersecurity. Businesses can “find talented internal employees with transferable skills in other departments, such as legal, finance, HR and even marketing. Look for employees with a clear understanding of how data flows through your organization, or those experienced in legal and compliance controls or user training.”

Providing education benefits so employees can pursue the training they need is a win-win for business and employees. The need for cybersecurity training is increasing, and employees who can tap into tuition assistance to alleviate the costs will be able to get training without financial debt.  These employees are also likely to stay with the employer that is providing the tuition assistance. Seventy-two percent of workers whose employers provide tuition assistance report they are very or somewhat satisfied compared to 63 percent of those whose employers don’t provide assistance.

A business that trains its workforce will be able to fill its cybersecurity demands, rather than face the predicted shortages. “Many existing workers possess the skills required to enter or advance in a career in cybersecurity, and they just need to develop the “last mile” skills necessary to make the transition. Therefore, working learners present a strong opportunity to bring new blood into the cybersecurity workforce.”   The bottom line is easy to calculate. An investment in tuition assistance yields a return of employee retention and talent development.