Addressing the Cybersecurity Skills Gap: The Need for Targeted Training

The Challenge of Recruiting and Retaining Skilled Cybersecurity Professionals

The global cybersecurity skills gap, estimated to be around 3.4 million professionals by (ISC)2, has become a pressing concern for organizations worldwide. The traditional approach of relying on higher education to fill the gap is no longer sufficient. Instead, think tanks and industry experts are calling for a more inclusive recruitment strategy, encouraging individuals from related professions or with relevant soft skills to enter the cybersecurity field. However, the reality is that organizations are competing for a limited pool of talent, leading to a transient workforce and potential vulnerabilities. This article explores the complexities of addressing the cybersecurity skills gap and the importance of targeted training in bridging this divide.

The Dangers of a Transient Workforce

A transient workforce poses challenges for both individuals and businesses. With cybersecurity professionals frequently changing jobs, individuals struggle to reach their full potential within short tenures. Businesses, on the other hand, face increased vulnerability due to a lack of stability and resilience in their security initiatives. Moreover, this situation favors organizations with deeper pockets, making it difficult for startups and small to midsize businesses to thrive, ultimately hampering economic growth.

The Pitfalls of Insufficiently Skilled Applicants

While encouraging non-skilled applicants into the cybersecurity sector may seem like a solution, it can also backfire without adequate provision. A UK government report revealed that 22% of cyber-sector companies employ staff lacking necessary skills, while 44% stated that job applicants lack the required technical expertise. This leads to prolonged job vacancies and businesses failing to meet their goals. Specialist skill sets and experience further complicate the hiring process, as roles such as forensic analysis, security architecture, and penetration testing require specific expertise that cannot be easily filled by applicants with potential but no relevant background.

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The Risk of Diluting the Industry

Opening the gates to individuals without technical skills risks diluting the cybersecurity industry. While soft skills are valuable, they alone cannot address the shortage of trained and competent professionals. Focusing solely on soft skills exacerbates the problem and further undermines resilience in the industry. A balanced approach is necessary, emphasizing the need for both technical expertise and soft skills.

Overcoming Reluctance to Invest in Training

Many organizations are hesitant to invest in training due to fears that trained employees may leave for better opportunities. However, studies show that the majority of cybersecurity professionals pursue certifications to improve their skills and stay up to date with current trends, rather than to seek external job opportunities. To alleviate the burden on businesses, initiatives such as the (ISC)2's pledge of a million free courses and exams, as well as universities offering free online courses, are commendable. However, these efforts alone cannot meet the demand for training.

Targeted Training as the Way Forward

To effectively bridge the skills gap, targeted training initiatives are crucial. The implementation of cyber career pathways across the US, UK, and Europe has provided a clearer understanding of the skills required for specific roles. This allows individuals, educational institutions, and businesses to plan accordingly. However, more attention must be given to the roles in highest demand, as these are the most likely to face poaching. By providing sufficient training in these areas, the cybersecurity sector can mitigate the destabilizing effects of the “fishing in a barrel” phenomenon.


Addressing the cybersecurity skills gap requires a multifaceted approach. While encouraging individuals from related professions and with relevant soft skills is important, it must be accompanied by targeted training initiatives. A transient workforce and the dilution of technical expertise pose significant challenges to the industry. By identifying roles in highest demand and offering tailored tuition, we can ensure a resilient and skilled cybersecurity workforce that safeguards organizations and their stakeholders. The tools are available, and now it is crucial to prioritize and invest in the training needed to close the skills gap.

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About the Author: George Smith

George Smith, with over a decade in tech journalism, excels in breaking down emerging tech trends. His work, spanning tech blogs and print, combines in-depth analysis with clarity, appealing to a wide readership. George's pieces often explore technology's societal impact, showcasing his foresight in industry trends.