High-demand cybersecurity skill sets: Specialized cybersecurity skills around cloud computing represent the biggest gap

May 10, 2016

Jon Oltsik

Back to one of my pet issues, the global cybersecurity skills shortage.

According to ESG research, 46 percent of organizations say they have a “problematic shortage” of cybersecurity skills in 2016 (note: I am an ESG employee). By comparison, 28 percent of organizations claimed to have a “problematic shortage” of cybersecurity skills in 2015. That means we’ve seen an 18 percent year-over-year increase.

So, there is a universal shortage of infused talent, but where are these deficiencies most acute? According to a survey of 299 IT and cybersecurity professionals:

Cybersecurity education tends to follow an extremely broad curriculum. Some institutions (like my alma mater, University of Massachusetts) don’t even break out cybersecurity on its own but rather treat it as a subset of computer science. Yes, we need cybersecurity generalists, but ultimately specialization matters. Employers need specific skills to fill gaps while cybersecurity professionals can accelerate their careers with training and skills development in high-demand areas. 

This is the conundrum we face as an industry. Until we develop a strategic plan to greatly improve the supply side of cybersecurity skills, the demand side will become increasingly chaotic.