A mass shortage of sufficient cyber security skills could threaten UK businesses for years to come, as new research reveals the growing gap in the availability of trained IT professionals.
Job site Indeed calculated supply and demand for cyber security skills by measuring online searches against posted job roles. According to the data, demand for skilled cyber professionals in the UK was three times higher than candidate interest for such positions.
By comparison, a recent surge in tech talent in Ireland produced a cyber skills gap of just 14 per cent, according to the study, while the only country to register a greater gap than the UK was Israel.
With larger corporations able to invest more resources into cyber security, it could be small businesses that are most at threat from a shortage of qualified IT workers.
Worryingly, the data suggested that Britain’s cyber security skills shortage is growing. Between 2014 and 2016, the gap between demand for roles and number of candidates increased by five per cent.
According to Indeed’s European market economist, Mariano Mamertino, the shortage had pushed the UK to a “crisis point”, adding that it represented “a wake-up call”.
Mamertino concluded that it was the responsibility of the country’s technology industry to plug the cyber skills gap. “Britain’s tech sector must pull together to up-skill and attract more people into cyber security roles,” he said in a statement.
The negative light cast on UK cyber security was not improved by a number of high profile breaches to larger companies in recent years.
In October 2016, the TalkTalk network received a £400,000 fine after the UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, concluded that sensitive customer information was accessed by hackers “with ease”.
In an attempt to combat online attacks on UK businesses, the government announced last November that £1.9bn would be invested into building up cyber defences.
Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted that protecting against such attacks was crucial to economic growth in Britain.
“If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business, then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do digital business,” he said in a statement.
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