The Cyber ​​Skills Gap Is Worse Than We Thought | information age

Who is going to fill the seats of all the cybersecurity workers Australia needs? Photo: Shutterstock

The cybersecurity skills gap has become so large that universities and TAFEs will not be able to fill it, one of Australia’s biggest cybersecurity services companies has warned, as new research suggests the industry could see up to to 30,000 vacancies in four years.

The figure is nearly double the cyber skills gap forecast by industry group AustCyber ​​before the pandemic, when it predicted Australia would need almost 17,000 more cybersecurity workers by 2026 – and warned that universities will produce only 2,000 e-graduates a year by then.

According to a Per Capita-CyberCX analysis – titled Upskilling and Developing Australia’s Cybersecurity Workforce – who warned that the gap “is arguably a significant economic and national security issue”.

This has been particularly the case in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania – which have been identified as the areas needing particular attention to build cybersecurity skills – while the ACT” is becoming a critical center of cybersecurity,” the report notes, “and this should continue to be cultivated.”

Universities had pursued a “radical shift” in strategy to address the skills gap, with around 87 dedicated tertiary qualifications – up from just eight in 2018 – and an additional 58 qualifications offering a major in cybersecurity.

Although the analysis found that these programs “appear to be well specified and correspond to critical areas of cybersecurity”, their novelty means that it may be some time before they “see significant adoption”.

Yet, while university degrees are valued by employers – and quite common among cybersecurity professionals – discussions with the report’s research reference group revealed that the absence of a degree is no longer a deciding factor since many of the 33 cybersecurity specialties do not require a university-level degree.

“Although this claim is category and orientation dependent, TAFE and other vocational qualifications are considered to be of significant value and immense practical value,” the report notes, calling for “a reassessment of the traditional approach technical education”.

“The third sector continues to build the talent pool but, given the technical and highly applied nature of many aspects of cybersecurity work, professional and practical experience is invaluable.”

Industry takes over

Recent industry efforts have combined hands-on experience with educational training, including a Microsoft/AustCyber ​​internship program, a joint university-industry-supported cyber academy that pays interns, increasing cyber -training through TAFE, the $2.35 million investment in La Trobe University microloans, the six-month CyberCX Academy program, and widespread adherence to a public-private jobs plan.

Immigration policy changes – including the new government’s recent reversal of long-stagnant migration caps – will play an important role in bridging the gap, the report notes, as will increased domestic business investment.

CyberCX CEO John Paitaridis warned that the “timely and important” research findings highlighted the challenges the industry faces in keeping up with the rapid pace of digital transformation.

“As Australian organizations increasingly embrace digital transformation, we need to ensure we have the workforce capacity to meet our nation’s cybersecurity needs,” he said, urging government, industry and academia to collaborate on ways to bring “a more diverse group of Australians”. in industry.

“There are a growing number of smart, secure jobs being created and not filled,” he said – the economic cost of this shortfall to be explored in a second analysis to be released soon.

There is not a wide enough skills gap

Even as industry and government strive to beef up the cybersecurity skills pool, competition from other sectors – which has become so intense that a recent hot jobs listing barely mentions cybersecurity – ensures that closing the gap will put more pressure on conventional systems and new skills pathways than ever before.

The results echo the results of the recent ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse study, which found that the tech sector faces an annual shortfall of 60,000 tech workers across all disciplines.

While the size of the gap may seem “daunting,” said ACS chief executive Chris Vein, closing it “is totally doable” given the momentum already created by efforts to create new paths in cybersecurity – like the newly launched ACS. -Partnership with the Government of Queensland to offer the Certificate IV in Cybersecurity as an internship.

“This request is a great opportunity for Australia,” Vein said. “We have a great opportunity to build a workforce that can digitize and cybersecurity is a key part of meeting that challenge.”

Overall, the tech sector will need to expand to 1.2 million workers by 2027, digital pulse found – even as the market sees an annual growth of 8%, more than double that of the overall Australian workforce.

“If we can meet this demand,” Vein said, “we will bring more Australians into well-paying technology roles and give industry and government the ability to protect our country’s IT systems – and we hopefully more Australians, young and old, consider joining what is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.