Being proactive about closing the cyber skills gap

Being proactive about closing the cyber skills gap

The skills gap is a heavily talked about subject amongst industry professionals as they attempt to find ways to appeal to potential new employees. New Fortinet research has revealed escalating cyber-risks due to the ongoing talent shortage while the number of organisations experiencing five or more breaches jumped by 53%. We take a look at how organisations are responding.

Fortinet, the global cybersecurity leader driving the convergence of networking and security, has released its 2023 Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report, which reveals ongoing challenges related to the cybersecurity skills shortage affecting organisations worldwide. Key findings from the global report include:

  • The cybersecurity skills shortage has contributed to critical IT positions not being filled, which increases organisations’ cyber-risks, such as breaches. 
  • Cybersecurity remains a priority for boards of directors and there is executive demand for increased IT security headcount.
  • Technology-focused certifications are highly regarded by employers, serving as validation of skillsets.
  • Organisations recognise the advantage of recruiting and retaining diverse talent to help address the skills shortage, but doing so has presented a challenge.

The costly reality

An estimated 3.4 million professionals are needed to fill the global cybersecurity workforce gap. At the same time, the 2023 Global Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report found that the number of organisations experiencing five or more breaches jumped by 53% from 2021 to 2022. One repercussion of this is that many short-staffed cybersecurity teams are burdened and strained as they try to keep up with thousands of daily threat alerts and attempt to manage disparate solutions to properly protect their organisation’s devices and data.

Upskilling professionals and developing more talent with training

The report also suggested that employers recognise how training and certifications can benefit their organisation in addressing the skills gap, while also serving as an advantage for anyone looking to advance in their current security profession, as well as for individuals considering transitioning into the field.

In light of this, various IT organisations are actively responding to the skills shortage as it affects not only the cybersecurity space, but the wider industry.

Volkswagen Group is funding Europe’s first IT automotive study programme at the 42 Wolfsburg coding school.

Together with the ‘42’ coding schools in Wolfsburg and Berlin and partners including Microsoft, Bosch and the Korean Kookmin University, the Volkswagen Group has established the SEA:ME degree programme, the first open education course in Europe for software engineering in the automotive and mobility sectors. The aim of the new programme is to train highly qualified software specialists using modern peer learning methods and develop open, sustainable standards for the mobility system and the mobility transition. Volkswagen is thus making a significant contribution to the free education movement in the automotive and mobility sector. The first students start in Wolfsburg on July 3, 2023.

At the start of the first year of the SEA:ME course (Software Engineering in Automotive and Mobility ecosystems) at the 42 Wolfsburg coding school, which Volkswagen started, Chief Human Resources Officer, Gunnar Kilian, said: “Volkswagen is actively involved in solving the IT skills shortage as a co-initiator of the new course and is thus driving the development of a new, open education ecosystem for the sustainable future of mobility. Together with 42 Wolfsburg and other partners, we’re creating an innovative course at the Wolfsburg automotive hub that is precisely tailored to the needs of our sector. This initiative is therefore unique in Europe.”

Dr Max Senges, CEO of the 42 offshoot in Wolfsburg and Berlin, said: “We’re delighted that Volkswagen, as an important partner and founding member of 42 Wolfsburg, is supporting us with SEA:ME. The close collaboration with our strong partners from the world of business means we can ensure that our graduates are optimally prepared for the needs of the automotive sector. In the pioneer year, the first generation of students is now coming together in Wolfsburg to obtain the proof of concept for the innovative curriculum.”

SEA:ME is the first IT study programme in Europe to be specially tailored for the automotive sector. Thanks to the combined focus on IT and automotive technology, the tuition-free course opens up the possibility of gaining in-depth knowledge in both areas in a practical and interdisciplinary environment to anyone with talent. The course’s high level of practical relevance due to industry partnerships with companies such as Volkswagen, Volkswagen’s software subsidiary, CARIAD, Microsoft, Bosch and other partners give students the best preparation for starting their careers in the fields of work in question. The members of the partner network, including Korea’s Kookmin University, are working closely together on refining the curriculum for the new course and continuously developing its content. All the materials used in the course are open educational resources (OER) and can therefore be freely used by learners all over the world.

Another approach to closing the skills gap is through apprenticeship programmes which are fast becoming a very popular method of attack.   

Cheshire-based training and apprenticeship provider, Apprentify, recently won a contract worth approximately £250,000 with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to deliver Digital Skills Bootcamps to learners across the region.  

Apprentify is delighted to be delivering these bootcamps as part of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Skills for Growth training scheme. 

The fully funded courses delivered by Apprentify will give people the opportunity to learn digital skills at a time where there is high demand for experienced tech talent. These six-week bootcamps will teach them about Search Engine Optimisation, a specialist branch of digital marketing. The partnership will provide a minimum of 75 places to people aged 19 years and over living across Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.  

Jonathan Fitchew, CEO of Apprentify, said: “Digital bootcamps are a great opportunity for people to build confidence and skills in subjects that will help them progress in their careers, without committing to long-term schooling. They also provide a great pipeline of talent for employers in the local area who are struggling to find experienced digital marketers. We are pleased to be working with WYCA as part of its wider initiative to reinvigorate businesses in the county.”  

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