Cyber security skills shortage near breaking point

A lack of government interest and Brexit is widening the skills gap, say UK IT decision-makers

The UK's widening cyber skills gap is putting the country's businesses at risk, with uncertainty around Brexit is also proving to be a huge concern for recruitment in the field.

This is according to research from cyber security consultancy RedSeal, which ran an online survey of 502 IT decision-makers from across the country. Within it, 95% of CIOs and IT professionals said that the UK's stalled exit from the EU is actually widening the skills gap

87% of theses CIOs and senior IT professionals also reported that they're struggling to find cyber security professionals with the expertise needed to combat serious and organised online crime.

The participants believe that this widening gap has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the UK businesses and RedSeal is urging the UK government to create a more robust education policy that will deliver the skills needed in the future. "Across the industry, we have drained the talent pool for security professionals," said Mike Lloyd, CTO at RedSeal. "There's a global shortage of about 4 million cybersecurity pros, up from just over 3 million last year." 

"The UK's education system can help, but not quickly – professionals agree that it takes about 10 years of real-world experience to develop the skills needed to combat today's threats, so we're facing a sustained drought for talent."  In 2018, Parliament's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy published a report detailing the UK's lack of digital skills. It revealed that "although the UK has one of the most vibrant digital economies in the world, there is not currently the cyber security skills base to match, with both the government and private sector affected by the shortage in skills". 

The authors of the report voiced huge concerns around the government's apparent lack of urgency in addressing the cybersecurity skills gap in relation to critical national infrastructure.

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With a general election just two weeks away, the major political parties have set out their manifestos with some pledges around cyber security. The Conservative party has detailed a strategy to attract the top tech and science graduates from around the world with fast-tracked entry. It's worth pointing out that the visa system has been a contentious issue for the tories over the last two years. 

Labour, on the other hand, has set out a strategy to overhaul the current governing bodies for cyber security, but hasn't detailed any changes in cyber skills or IT training. 

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