Addressing the cyber skills gap through strategic partnerships

By Kathy Quashie
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By Kathy Quashie, Chief Growth Officer at Capita 

It’s well known that cracks are beginning to show in the workforce of today. Demand for digital skills, permeating each and every industry, is not being met with supply. This digital skills gap is harming UK productivity – and will continue to do so until it is addressed by employers up and down the country.

Increased demand for digital capabilities is putting pressure on organisations to find people with the right skills to fulfil current and future business objectives. The cybersecurity industry is chief among them. The threat landscape is growing at such speed that skills and techniques are sometimes left outdated and made redundant within the span of a few years.

There is a clear need for organisations to identify and hire the best talent to fill the roles they need to enhance cyber resilience. There are countless exciting opportunities waiting for candidates to step into modern, exciting, and critical cyber roles.

But how can we bridge the gap?

Breaking down the barriers

Encouraging people to explore careers in cybersecurity requires employers to position career options in a way that excites those who previously disregarded it as a valid option.

Potential, highly skilled candidates are often put off exploring a career in cyber due to the technical language that is used in job descriptions and the lack of clarity that comes with it. Whilst technical in its nature, many cyber roles can be quickly learnt by those who demonstrate the aptitude for digital skills.

Contrary to most perceptions, cybersecurity is an industry that allows people to think outside of the box, inciting creative thinking and encouraging new perspectives to disrupt the legacy approaches that are failing to keep pace with changing threats. Often those hiring for cyber roles turn to the same talent sources rather than broadening their horizons.

An untapped pool of talent

There are a number of untapped pools of talent that are often overlooked when it comes to identifying and hiring digital roles in cybersecurity.

Looking at current demographics in the industry, cyber roles are largely male dominated. In addition, statistics show that 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent. Many hiring processes are misaligned to how these neurodivergent individuals process information and can therefore detract them from exploring roles in the sector.

There is also a third group of skilled resource in the form of military veterans who are overlooked in traditional recruitment due to the large gaps in their CVs or lack of prior industry experience. The use of CVs to assess a person’s suitability for a certain role date back to 1482 and Leonardo DaVinci, yet it’s a method we continue to use today.

An effective approach to cybersecurity requires a diverse team that brings a combination of both soft and hard skills to reflect the diverse challenges that are being faced. Promoting and making roles more accessible for diverse applicants can be instrumental in helping to close the cyber skills gap.

In recognition of this issue, end-to-end talent management platform WithYouWithMe, uses aptitude testing as a more effective way of identifying candidates that are best suited to each role by assessing real-life skills and aptitude. This allows candidates to showcase skills from their careers that are hard to describe on a CV, and helps employers identify the very best candidates in a more effectual way.

By solely hiring individuals with similar backgrounds and skillsets, organisations are more likely to build a team with a greater depth of knowledge, but only in one particular area. To gain the breadth of skills and experience, organisations need to branch out to these untapped talent pools.

Technology and cyberthreats are advancing. Methods for identifying and hiring talent for cyber roles must advance with them.

Working together to deliver the solution

Coming together as an industry in an effort to support businesses that need greater technical resource is the next step to overcoming the cyber skills gap.

By partnering with innovative companies like WithYouWithMe, Capita seeks to reduce the shortage by matching highly capable individuals with suited roles left vacant by the technical skills gap. Looking at a candidates’ potential and aptitude for cyber skills rather than their past experience, opens up opportunities of employment for those that are often overlooked by the current hiring processes.

With an adaptive recruitment strategy that reflects the changing nature of the cyber threat landscape to improve talent acquisition, organisations will be better able to retain and grow talent over time to build a future-proof workforce.

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