David Dixon, Security Testing Pre‑Sales Consultant, Chess
In today's digital age, cybersecurity has become more critical than ever. With the rapid advancement of technology, the threat landscape is constantly evolving, making it essential for organisations to bolster their cybersecurity defences. This increasing demand for cybersecurity experts has led to a surge in job opportunities in the field. To better understand the state of cybersecurity skills in the UK labour market in 2023, we turn to the "Cyber Security Skills in the UK Labour Market 2023" report by the UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation & Technology.
The Current Landscape
Growing Demand for Cybersecurity Professionals
The report indicates that the demand for cybersecurity professionals in the UK is on the rise. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, organisations across all sectors are actively recruiting skilled individuals to protect their digital assets. This demand has led to a shortage of qualified cybersecurity experts, including roles such as cybersecurity analysts, SOC managers, penetration testers (including CHECK and CREST-certified professionals), and CISOs.
- Shockingly, 50% of all UK businesses have a basic cybersecurity skills gap, while 33% have an advanced cybersecurity skills gap. These figures are consistent with those from 2022 and 2021, highlighting the persistent skills gap issue.
A Widening Skills Gap
Despite the increasing demand, there is still a significant skills gap in the cybersecurity sector. Many job openings remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. This gap highlights the need for individuals to upskill and acquire the necessary knowledge and certifications to meet industry demands, particularly in roles like penetration testers, incident response specialists, security consultants, AI and machine learning security specialists, and cloud security experts.
- In the last year, there were 160,035 cybersecurity job postings in the UK, marking a significant increase of 30% from the previous year. While this indicates positive job growth, 37% of these vacancies were reported as hard-to-fill, which, although down from 44% in 2022, still mirrors the situation from 2021
Gender Disparities in the Cybersecurity Workforce
While the demand for cybersecurity experts is evident, the diversity of the workforce remains a concern:
- Only 17% of the cyber sector workforce is female, a decrease from 22% last year but consistent with 2021 and 2020. Furthermore, a mere 14% of senior roles are filled by women, emphasising the need for greater gender diversity in leadership positions, including CISOs and cybersecurity analysts.
Progress and Government Initiatives
The report also notes some progress and government initiatives to address these challenges:
- Despite the skills gap, there is some good news. There's an estimated shortfall of 11,200 people to meet the demand of the cybersecurity workforce, which is down from 14,100 last year, primarily due to the sector's slower growth.
- The UK government has launched the £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy, which aims to increase the number and diversity of skilled individuals in the cybersecurity profession. This includes initiatives to encourage young people to develop their cyber and tech skills and take subjects such as computer science, which can help prepare them for careers in cybersecurity and technology.
The UK labour market for cybersecurity professionals is robust, with a growing demand for skilled individuals to protect organisations from cyber threats. However, the persistent skills gap, gender disparities, and the need for ongoing government initiatives highlight the complexity of the cybersecurity job market.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the need for cybersecurity experts will only increase. The rapid advancement of AI and machine learning technologies introduces new challenges and opportunities in the cybersecurity field. AI can be a double-edged sword, potentially aiding both defenders and attackers. Thus, the importance of cybersecurity professionals in harnessing the power of AI for security and defending against AI-driven cyber threats cannot be overstated.
To excel in this dynamic environment, cybersecurity professionals must remain dedicated to continuous learning and development, staying vigilant against evolving threats and adapting to emerging technologies.
Please refer to the report: Cyber Security Skills in the UK Labour Market 2023 for the most current and detailed information about cybersecurity skills in the UK labour market in 2023.