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Eliminating the cybersecurity skill gap in the UAE with Digital14's CPC

EGLA TAYE Jun. 2, 2021
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Based on the 'State of Cybersecurity 2021 Report' from ISACA, the cybersecurity workforce remains unprepared, with several specialised skills unavailable, despite the exponential increase in cyber threats - with estimated costs eclipsing $6 trillion in 2021. To combat these growing threats, governments, businesses, and academia are actively collaborating to fill the skills gap. Over 300,000 jobs need to be filled in the MENA region alone this year to secure citizens, organisations, and nations. According to the World Economic Forum, "Nowhere is the workforce skills gap more pronounced than in cybersecurity". This is heightened by the fast-paced and evolving nature of the cybersecurity industry. What your security team knows today will no longer be relevant or adequate against hackers tomorrow.

To produce meaningful changes in resolving the skills shortage puzzle, we recommend a two-pronged approach: first, building cybersecurity capabilities and upskilling of the youth and junior information security staff, and second, investing in an educated, vigilant and engaged organisation-wide workforce.

At the heart of the human capital challenge in cybersecurity is finding technical experts with relevant field experience and the motivation to continuously hone their skills with the evolving threat landscape and convergence of technology. Microsoft's 'Future of Work Skills' found sourcing cyber talent externally creates "intense competition to attract and retain a relatively small pool of talent, ultimately derailing the business' ability to maintain an adequate pipeline of skills. Capabilities related to real-life experience and authentic job assignments are challenging for youth or new entrants to cross over to the cybersecurity field. Education programmes typically offer qualifications but do not build on the job competencies and professional insights. To create and tune those capabilities, we work with our students and clients to ensure that talent development programmes (see Cybersecurity Professional Certification) include the following essential attributes:

1- Lifelong learning: we utilise best practices focused on how adults learn. Junior employees practice and assess their skills through simulated cyber range exercises, receive mentorship from Digital14 seasoned professionals, and engage in external certification pathways.

2- On the Job Training (OJT): we help employees grow with the organisation and set career journeys to advance through technical or management leadership tracks. Incentive structures and professional development plans are in place to enable performance-based learning and cross-functional projects.

3- Localisation: content and understanding are rooted in the industry (e.g., Energy & Utilities vs. Financial Services) and research tackles local, regional challenges, and socio-economic and political forces shaping attacks and vulnerabilities. 

In addition to building a solid pipeline of future cybersecurity experts, improving organisations' preparedness for cyber-attacks requires a broader set of skills and engagement by practitioners. It must extend far beyond just those people in security-specific roles. An effective approach to tackling human risk is to assume that all employees play an integral part in an organisation's cyber defence structure. A mature and connected workforce will go beyond compliance to adopting security policies and play a critical role in reducing incidents, protecting assets, and building resilience. To instil a cybersecurity culture within organisations through a holistic awareness programme will help produce a change in behaviour, perception and knowledge across all end users, your first line of defence and largest attack surface. 

Sign up now for Digital14's Cybersecurity Professional Certification Programme: https://www.digital14.com/cybersec-certification 

References:

  • Cybersecurity Ventures in CyberCrime Magazine, Cybersecurity Talent Crunch To Create 3.5 Million Unfilled Jobs Globally By 2021
  • (ICS)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2019
  • ISACA State of Cybersecurity 2021, Part 1: Global update on workforce efforts, resources and budgets