Global cyber security skills gap widens to three million

A blue digital map of the world with abstract decorative elements
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A report by non-profit association (ISC) has revealed that the worldwide cyber security skills gap currently stands at almost three million, exposing a serious shortage of talent working in the IT security sector.

Based upon feedback from almost 1,500 ICT workers around the world, the Cybersecurity Workforce Study revealed that almost two-thirds of businesses believe they have a cyber security skills gap. And more than half think their business is at risk of cyber attack because the lack of skills means they're not prepared for hack attacks.

Although there's a distinct lack of cyber security skills in the enterprise, the study revealed that almost half of businesses will enhance their workforce in the next 12 years to address the gap. What could serve as a temporary solution, at least in the short term is that 48% of IT staff are looking to become certified in some form of cybersecurity skills.

"This research is essential to fostering a clearer understanding of who makes up the larger pool of cybersecurity workers and enables us to better tailor our professional development programs for the men and women securing organizations day in and day out," said (ISC)2 CEO David Shearer, CISSP. "We will share these powerful insights with our partners in government and the private sector to help establish the programs necessary to advance the cybersecurity profession."

The report also highlighted reasons why businesses aren't choosing to progress into the cyber industry, noting that there's no clear career progression for those joining the industry, businesses don't seem to understand what cyber security skills are and it's a big investment to become skilled in the sector.

"By broadening our view of the workforce to include those with collateral cybersecurity duties within IT and ICT teams, we discovered that professionals are still facing familiar challenges, but also found striking differences compared to previous research, including a younger workforce and greater representation of women," Shearer added.

However, political factors are also playing a part. Concerns have been raised that if ongoing Brexit negotiations break down, or if any subsequent deal fails to cover the highly complex process of cross-border information sharing, it's likely the UK will suffer from a 'brain drain'. This comes at a time when the UK's own National Cyber Security Centre is suffering from its own digital skills shortage, as well as UK security firm Raytheon, which put its vacancy rate between 20-30%.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.