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How employee upskilling can ease the cyber talent shortage

In the past few years, U.S. businesses have experienced an intense acceleration of cyber threats and challenges. The transition to remote and hybrid work models, as well as critical digital transformations, have created new and ever-evolving corporate cybersecurity challenges, resulting in a surge of high-profile ransomware attacks.

The IT and cybersecurity talent shortage threatens already-overwhelmed corporate cybersecurity systems. In fact, an estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs went unfilled in 2021 globally. Organizations know that a shortage can leave them vulnerable — 54% of companies, including those that anticipate a decline in revenue, are planning to increase their tech spend to prioritize cybersecurity.

But tech-enabled cybersecurity systems can only go so far without the people needed to drive an organization’s risk management strategy forward. To truly future-proof and protect — and to meet the demand of amplified threats, organizations must overcome the significant cybersecurity talent shortage by upskilling employees into cyber experts.

Balance the flexibility and risk of hybrid work

To better accommodate employee preferences for enhanced flexibility, 72% of global companies have implemented hybrid work policies, and another 18% considering are it. This new approach to working gives companies the ability to hire teams across the globe, which has the potential to drive new growth that simply would not have been possible before 2020.

However, a business’ growth rate is ultimately dependent on the infrastructure it needs to sustain itself.  To take advantage of the opportunities hybrid working offers, companies should have the tools needed to power efficient remote work environments, as well as the critical ability to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats. The investment necessary to hire and train cyber experts to meet these new needs has not materialized; the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 65% to effectively protect the critical assets of organizations.

While recruiting new workers is crucial, the talent shortage could prevent companies from getting the people they need to match the scale of business growth. Leaders often forget an equally potent source of new cyber talent: their own employees. These employees already know the companies’ priorities and processes and may add greater value if given the opportunity to retrain or upskill into a more specialized IT role. By using technology to upskill current talent, companies are actually promoting business growth, rather than simply protecting current value.

Build internal trust

Employees make up one of the most valuable corporate stakeholder groups. As organizations continue to face staffing shortages, especially among tech talent, building and maintaining employee trust is business critical. Investing in employee trust can help improve retention and reduce insider risk.

Companies cannot neglect cybersecurity in their efforts to maintain employee trust. Cybersecurity incidents are common in this ever-growing cyber-threat landscape, but forward-thinking leaders will know how to turn a crisis, like the cybersecurity talent shortage, into an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with their employees, users, investors and other stakeholders. 

Upskilling helps get employees directly involved with corporate cybersecurity efforts, providing them with invaluable firsthand knowledge that will be beneficial, no matter where they go in their career. Furthermore, it shows employees that companies want to invest in their growth and career development, rather than simply hiring someone else. 

Addressing the cybersecurity workforce and skills shortage will be pivotal to building a secure, stable business environment in this decade. Upskilling will be an integral part of this, positioning businesses well as they face the next inevitable wave of cyber challenges.

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