Only half of UK businesses have right skills to combat a cyberattack

2017 will stay in the minds of cybersecurity experts for all the wrong reasons, mainly for the scale and violence of cyberattacks this year.

With the NHS, Uber and Equifax all falling victim to unscrupulous attackers  and increased awareness of the issues of cybersecurity, only half of UK companies believe they have the right skills to address a cyberattack.

Perhaps most worrying is that only half of IT workers said that cybersecurity was included in their training, and almost one in four say they are not confident in handling a cyber security attack. Despite the growing threat and lack of in-house expertise, only half of employers look for cybersecurity skills when recruiting new IT talent.

In fact, the lack of cybersecurity skills may be due to a wider skills gaps facing the UK tech industry. Nearly a third of tech employees said they felt they were insufficiently trained in coding, cybersecurity and cloud migration. The gaps in employees’ skills is translating to the businesses they work for with 23 per cent saying their business is missing programming and cybersecurity skills.

However, despite awareness around the risk of cybersecurity and the lack of preparedness, only 22 per cent of employers are currently training their existing staff in cybersecurity.

Three-quarters of employers agree that universities should be responsible for making sure tech employees are equipped with the necessary skills the industry is currently lacking. However, of the graduates entering the tech industry, 38 per cent of tech employers believe they are lacking the necessary cybersecurity skills needed.

Of the companies looking to recruit cybersecurity experts, 82 per cent are currently struggling to fill these roles, with 30 per cent believing this is due to an industry skills gap and 25 per cent saying it’s down to being a competitive hiring market for people with these skills.

How to address the cybersecurity skills gap?

Dominic Harvey, Director, CWJobs said: “The government has started taking steps to address the skills gap with plans to treble the number of computer science teachers in schools, introduce a national centre for computing, and boost digital skills with the provision of distance learning courses.”

It is welcome news for tech employers. Prior to these measures being announced, CWJobs found that 65 per cent of employers thought the government had not invested enough in training the next generation of tech employees.

Employers are not shirking their responsibilities either, with only 55 per cent of those surveyed saying their company has its own training programme for entry-level employees, who are looking to be trained in a new area of their business, and 58 per cent of employers are retraining existing staff to address the skills gap.

Dominic Harvey, also added: “It’s really encouraging to see the government listened to the concerns of the tech industry and responded by putting in plans to upskill the next generation of tech employees. This is not only important for the UK to keep pace globally, but so that businesses and organisations can be adequately prepared in the event of a cyber security attack, for instance. Now that we have a commitment from Government – and a clearer sense of where the skills are needed in areas like coding and cybersecurity – all parties can make a concerted effort to direct the new resources where they are needed most.”

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