The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study highlights some of the well-known issues for IT companies – there are not enough skilled workers. And this digital skills gap is about to become even more difficult to tackle. The reason – more and more companies in other industries are also planning to ramp up their IT teams.

The survey includes the responses of 19 000 cyber security professionals around the world and about 3700 of them in Europe. It shows that almost 40% of European firms want to grow their cyber security teams by at least 15% in the next year. This puts European organizations at the top for biggest hiring targets. Also, two-thirds of them say they have too few cyber security pros. But they also have the least people to choose from. The unemployment rate in the field is below 1%, but the turnaround is huge since top workers are flooded with new offers.

Sadly, that’s not about to change unless something is done. The report projects a skills gap of 350 000 people in the cyber security sector alone by 2022. The report also recommends that organizations start do more to embrace newcomers.

One of the problems the study finds is that 92% of hiring managers prioritize previous cyber security experience. This filters out a vast amount of potential candidates because the companies don’t want to invest in training them.  48% also say they rely on their social and professional networks as a primary source of recruitment.

European companies though have to face the global competition for talent, as well. 70% of employers around the world say they want to hire more cyber security pros this year. It’s an expected reaction after the many big cyber attacks over the recent months. Also, next year the EU will activate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has hefty fines for organizations which don’t comply.

Time to change

So, what to do? The report recommends that organizations change they approach to recruitment and open their doors for more talent. Workers with non-computing-related background now account for almost one-fifth of the IT workforce in Europe and they hold all types of positions including top ones. Companies should accept that the workforce is changing and a lot of people from other fields want to work in IT now and need the opportunity to do so.

Sadly, there also seems to be a discord between recruiters and workers about the skills needed. 60% of workers see cloud computing and security as a top skill along with risk assessment and management (41%). Employers though look for communication (66%) and analytical skills – 59%. The same skills are seen as a priority for only 25% and 20% respectively.

This means that employers should also accept they will have to invest in training their new workers. This is also a great way to keep them, as many IT workers actually put more value on skills. “It is particularly concerning that employers appear reluctant to invest in their workforce and are unwilling to hire less-experienced candidates. If we cannot be prepared to develop new talent, we will lose our ability to protect the economy and society”, Adrian Davis, managing director for EMEA at (ISC)2, says to ComputerWeekly. (ISC)2 commissioned the report.

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