Digital skills shortage threatens UK cyber security

A digital skills shortage is threatening the UK’s cyber security, warns Andy Johnston of techUK, the trade association for the UK’s digital industries.

Mr Johnston, Head of the Defence Programme at techUK, was speaking in the Research and Technology Knowledge Transfer Zone at DPRTE 2017, held in Cardiff on 28 March. techUK represents about 950 companies across the country.

He said: “It was recently reported that 77% of UK CIOs believe that they will face more security threats in the next five years, not due to the existing threat of cyber security and cyber attacks but due to the fact that they can’t actually recruit the right people.’’

The UK currently has the third highest global demand for cyber security jobs.

He added: “Recent studies have shown that in the search for cyber security skills in the UK, employer demand is outmatching candidate interest by more than three times.’’

This, he argued, was part of a nationwide problem with a demand for digital skills which will underpin the UK’s economy for decades.

“It’s practically impossible to work in any industry today without being exposed to some sort of skills shortage,’’ Johnston said. He quoted a recent survey in which 72% of employers had stated they would be unwilling to interview candidates lacking basic IT skills.

Johnston explained that it is estimated that the UK currently loses some £2 billion a year due to unfilled digital skills roles.

Big data roles will be the worst affected in coming years – 62% of techUK’s members have reported that they will need employees skilled in big data in the next five years – while cyber security is also a huge growth area.


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