Demand for cyber security skills increasing

The cyber attacks on Lloyds Banking Group this week, are the most recent in a string of high-profile cases, from the likes of Yahoo, the NSA, and the Bangladesh Bank Swift.

In the UK alone, fraud has hit record levels of £1.1 billion, and with the European Union’s GDPR set to come into effect from May 2018, cybercrime is at the top of the everyone’s agenda – from governments to businesses large and small, even individuals.

A new report released today by Experis highlights the dramatic cyber skills gap behind this. Talent requirements have soared in wake of several high-profile hacks, as organisations focus on long-term defence against cybercrime and annual demand for permanent and contract IT security professionals has increased by 46%, according to the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report from Experis, the global leader in professional IT resourcing.

The quarterly report tracks IT jobs advertised (within the five technology disciplines: big data, cloud, IT Security, mobile and web development) across 10 UK cities.

>See also: The skills gap and the future of hardware technicians

At a time when the industry is reporting a widening cyber security skills gap, the Q4 2016 survey shows that companies are prioritising longer-term investment – with a 52.9% surge in demand for permanent staff year-on-year.

In comparison, there was a 15.3% rise in demand from Q4 2015 – Q4 2016 for IT security contractor support.

Geoff Smith, managing director, Experis UK & Ireland, commented: “In the wake of several high-profile hacks, from the likes of Yahoo, NSA, and the Bangladesh Bank Swift, and with the European Union’s GDPR set to come into effect from May 2018, cybercrime is at the top of the C-Suite agenda for companies of all sizes – not just the big multinational players.”

“With business leaders taking cyber security concerns more seriously than ever before, we’re starting to see a shift in how they integrate the necessary skills into their workforce. While there’s still a requirement for contractor support, employers are now prioritising long-term defence, and are increasingly looking for permanent IT security professionals to do this.”

This shift is also reflected when comparing permanent salary increases to day rates. Annual IT security permanent salaries climbed by 4.99% (from Q4 2015 to Q4 2016) to £57,706, compared to 0.62% for contractor day rates (up to £484) over the same period.

Smith continued: “With the threat of cybercrime showing no signs of abating, our latest report demonstrates that employers are committed to ensuring IT security skills are embedded into their organisation for the foreseeable future. Linked to this is the increased need for internal training and development opportunities. Businesses must foster a culture of learnability and upskilling to equip existing and new security professionals with the right tools to defend against future attacks.”

>See also: Digital skills gap: How to prepare a generation for the modern workplace

The report also reveals that London remains the dominant force in the country’s cyber security frontline defence, with almost three times as many permanent IT security roles advertised in London (3,164) than in every other tech city in the study combined (1,278).

This is even more apparent from a contractor perspective, as there is almost 80% (604) of the total number (762) of IT security roles currently being advertised in the capital alone.

In addition, IT security professionals in the capital are still commanding the biggest salaries (£62,596); almost a fifth (19%) higher than any other region.

Smith concludes: “The demand for IT security talent is at an all-time high. As our data shows, those organisations that are looking to plug the skills gap are willing to pay more than ever before to bring in the right people with the right experience at the right time to ensure their business doesn’t become the next cyber security headline.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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