Upskilling Is the Secret to Closing the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

Here’s why upskilling is emerging as one way to retain staff, improve their career prospects on the job, and foster a more dynamic workplace.

Apu Pavithran, CEO and Founder, Hexnode

January 3, 2024

4 Min Read
cyber security threats wording surrounded by crime scene tape
Stuart Miles via Alamy Stock

The year in cybersecurity ended much like it started -- with a persistent shortage of skilled professionals. Recent findings confirm that seven out of 10 organizations feel the impact of the sector’s skills scarcity. This leads to heightened workloads, unfilled job requisitions, and soaring burnout rates among cybersecurity staff.

With demand for skilled professionals at a record high, companies are in a bind, striving to secure ever-evolving digital landscapes while maintaining workforce effectiveness and satisfaction. However, a new year brings new hope. Upskilling is emerging as one way to retain staff, improve their career prospects on the job, and foster a more dynamic workplace. Let’s explore why upskilling is the secret to closing the cybersecurity skills gap in 2024.

The Cybersecurity Skills Problem

One look at cybersecurity’s supply-demand ratio illustrates the magnitude of the problem. CyberSeek provides a comparative analysis of available cybersecurity workers versus job offers nationwide. Currently, the national average stands at 72%, meaning that there are only enough cybersecurity workers in the United States to fill 72% of the jobs demanded by employers. Compounding this vacancy challenge, cybersecurity leaders and workers are grappling with increasing career complexities and job dissatisfaction amid a surge in hacker activity.

Related:2023 Cyber Risk and Resiliency Report: How CIOs Are Dueling Disaster in 2023

It’s worth highlighting that these same teams are also gearing up for new regulatory demands in 2024. Notably, incoming rules from The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) mandate a four-day deadline for companies hit by cyberattacks to publicly disclose hacks in the new year.

Given these formidable challenges, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity leaders feel overwhelmed. Burnout is a significant issue with nearly half expected to change jobs by 2025. Alarmingly, 25% are anticipated to transition into entirely different roles due to various work-related stressors. As employers approach the new year, the daunting task ahead is to build and retain teams whose skills match the rapid pace of digital change.

Nurturing A Culture of Continuous Learning

By investing in upskilling, organizations not only address the cybersecurity skills gap but also foster an environment where knowledge becomes a dynamic and shared asset, unlocking untapped potential within the workforce.

The conventional approach to hiring in cybersecurity often entails hefty recruitment costs. However, a shift toward upskilling presents a compelling and cost-effective alternative. By directing resources into the development of existing talent, companies save on recruitment expenditures while also cultivating loyalty and commitment among their workforce.

Related:Tips for Better C-Suite Security Relationships in 2024

Beyond a professional development strategy, upskilling establishes a culture of continuous learning. This empowers employees to keep pace with and proactively stay ahead of emerging threats. Such a shift in mindset becomes a cornerstone for organizational readiness, ensuring that the cybersecurity team remains at the forefront of industry advancements.

Before initiating upskilling initiatives, organizations should conduct a thorough assessment of the current skills within their cybersecurity teams. Once identified, the next step is filling these gaps. Tailored initiatives, such as industry-specific certifications and hands-on training experiences, then ensure that employees acquire the precise skills needed to combat the evolving landscape. The good news is that 90% of leaders are willing to pay for employees to get certified.

While technical proficiency is crucial, a holistic cybersecurity strategy requires diverse skills, including risk management, communication, and collaboration. Upskilling should therefore extend beyond technical aspects to cultivate a well-rounded cybersecurity team capable of navigating the multifaceted challenges of today.

Related:7 Security Trends to Watch Heading into 2024

It’s Up To Company Leaders To Support Cybersecurity Upskilling

Leadership plays a pivotal role in driving upskilling and fostering a cybersecurity-first mindset. This requires transformation from the top, linking business goals with cybersecurity objectives, and recognizing cybersecurity as more than just a defense mechanism. Leaders must champion the cause of upskilling by endorsing and actively participating in these initiatives. Leading by example, executives can inspire a sense of urgency and commitment to cybersecurity throughout the organization.

Leaders may be convinced by the fact that stronger cybersecurity teams equal better cybersecurity outcomes. Gartner predicts that lack of talent or human failure will soon be responsible for over half of significant cyber incidents. This is because the number of cyber and social engineering attacks against people is spiking as threat actors increasingly see humans as the most vulnerable point of exploitation. Supporting teams to spot and stop such attacks will be key for security in the coming years.

As cybersecurity confronts a persistent skills gap heading into 2024, the urgency to address this challenge is underscored by alarming statistics and impending regulatory demands. Much more than a cost-effective alternative, upskilling is a way to foster continuous learning and empower teams to proactively combat emerging threats. Leaders must recognize that upskilling is not merely a defensive strategy but a proactive step toward building resilient and dynamic teams. Closing the cybersecurity skills gap is a journey, and with upskilling at its core, it becomes an opportunity for growth, adaptability, and digital fortification.

About the Author(s)

Apu Pavithran

CEO and Founder, Hexnode, Hexnode

Apu Pavithran is the founder and CEO of Hexnode. Recognized in the IT management community as a consultant, speaker, and thought leader, Apu has been a strong advocate for IT governance and Information security management. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship and spends significant time working with startups and empowering young entrepreneurs.

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