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How to fill the cybersecurity skills gap for emerging threats

Learn why the cybersecurity skills gap exists plus how to build a skill development strategy for security skills and emerging threats.

Jun 20, 2024 • 4 Minute Read

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  • IT Ops
  • Security
  • Business
  • AI & Machine Learning

Cybersecurity has been the number one technical skills gap since 2021. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Learn what it takes to fill the cybersecurity skills gap, overcome common skill development challenges, and secure your organization against the latest threats.

Uncover the four critical components of security upskilling with our How to solve the cybersecurity skills gap guide.

Table of contents

Causes of the cybersecurity skills gap in today’s threat landscape

What makes the security skills gap so hard to fill, even more so than other in-demand tech skills like cloud? Several challenges, including the current threat landscape, mental health concerns, and general skill development obstacles, impede success.

There aren’t enough security professionals for emerging threats

Deloitte’s 2023 Global Future of Cyber Survey found that 91% of organizations reported at least one cyber incident or breach in the past year. And there simply aren’t enough cybersecurity professionals to deal with them. According to CyberSeek, there are only 82 security professionals for every 100 open jobs.

As new technologies emerge, threats become more advanced, and AI increases the scale of attack, organizations need more security professionals with specialized skill sets who can manage complexity in an ever-changing environment.

Organizations set unrealistic expectations for cybersecurity professionals

Despite the lack of security talent, few organizations have adjusted the bar to entry. The majority are looking for highly qualified cybersecurity specialists with four-year college degrees, a variety of certifications, and several years of hands-on experience. 

As a result, organizations miss talented candidates who may not have the preferred experience but could quickly advance to more senior roles and become valuable assets with the right training and development.

Organizations struggle to develop security skills

As organizations look for qualified security talent in the market, they often fail to notice another source of talent—their current employees. Without a learning culture or skill development strategy, organizations struggle to keep up with the latest threats and fill the skills gap, even if they find the security professionals they need externally.

Stress and burnout cause security experts to leave the industry

Constant security threats, combined with being on call or on rotation, creates stress, burnout, and other mental health issues for security professionals. In fact, 45% of cybersecurity professionals have considered leaving the industry altogether (and taking their security skills with them).

What’s more, organizations that lose their security experts may find it hard to replace them. Competition is fierce, and the time to hire can leave critical roles open for months. In the United States, it takes an average of 10 weeks to hire new IT professionals.

How to build security skills and respond to the latest threats

So what can you do to close the security skills gap—for good?

Develop an employee retention program for security professionals

Before you focus on developing new security professionals, make sure you keep the talent you already have. Assess your current security team. How stressed or burnt out are they? Are they expected to respond to messages when they’re on vacation or out sick? 

Automate as much as you can and make sure employees get time off where they can fully disconnect from work. Learning opportunities can also boost employee retention. 47% of technologists consider leaving their current organization to grow their responsibilities and skill sets. If you give them those opportunities now, you improve engagement and boost skill development at the same time.

Widen your security talent pool

If you need to hire new employees to fill roles or skills gaps, widen your search beyond traditional university educations. Consider recent graduates who may not have years of experience, people looking to transition into the security industry from other fields, parents returning to work, veterans, and other sources of untapped talent.

In an environment that changes as quickly as cybersecurity, willingness to learn and adapt is often more important than specific degrees or qualifications.

Develop an upskilling strategy for security skills

By far the most reliable way to fill security skills gaps and prepare your organization for the latest threats is with cybersecurity skill development. 

Creating an effective security upskilling program, though—one that gives security professionals real-world skills they can apply on the job—requires multiple elements working in tandem.

First and foremost, security training must align with overarching organizational objectives. For example, perhaps your organization wants to improve the client experience by reducing downtime. To do that, you aim to decrease the mean time to detect (the amount of time it takes teams to detect potential security threats). Your security training, then, should include a focus on incident response detection and vulnerability analysis.

When it comes to security, everything can feel critical. Targeted skill development ensures tech professionals earn the right security skills and align with broader business goals. As business objectives change, reassess upskilling initiatives to ensure they continue to meet your needs.

What else does a successful security training program include? Uncover the essential elements of security upskilling with our How to solve the cybersecurity skills gap guide.

Build adaptive security skills to defend against emerging threats

Secure your organization against the latest threats, vulnerabilities, and exploits with Pluralsight’s continuous skill development.

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

The Pluralsight Content Team delivers the latest industry insights, technical knowledge, and business advice. As tech enthusiasts, we live and breathe the industry and are passionate about sharing our expertise. From programming and cloud computing to cybersecurity and AI, we cover a wide range of topics to keep you up to date and ahead of the curve.

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