The Impact of the Digital Skills Gap on Cybersecurity in the UK

The UK’s tech industry, like many others globally, is currently navigating an economic downturn. Companies such as Meta, Twitter, and Amazon have made redundancies, highlighting the difficult decisions being made in this challenging economic climate.

While the tech sector in the UK has fared better than other regions, there is still a pressing need to safeguard roles and bridge the cybersecurity skills gap.

Over the past decade, the number of UK organisations reporting a problematic shortage of cybersecurity skills has more than doubled, from 23% to 51%. This shortage leaves tech companies vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated cyber threats and hampers their ability to focus on innovation, which is crucial for navigating a recession.

Challenges in Recruitment and Retention

A recent analysis from cyber security solutions provider BSS revealed some troubling figures, highlighting the critical need for digital skills in the UK’s cyber security industry.

The skills gap is the most important people-related concern facing their teams or organisations this year, according to 48% of CISOs polled by BSS.

The lack of skilled professionals is putting enormous pressure on firms all around the UK, whether it is in established jobs or developing ones. Cyber threats are ever-evolving, necessitating highly specialised and flexible skills, which contributes to the problem.

Lack of applications for open positions is another issue that BSS’s research reveals, with 36% of CISOs citing it as a concern. This shortage is more than just a matter of numbers; it illustrates a mismatch between the skills required by the sector and the talent pool that is on hand.

The difficulties in hiring extend to fields that are essential to contemporary cyber security, such as cloud engineering, where 34% of employers reported difficulty finding candidates, third-party evaluation at 31%, and risk assessment and assurance at 31%.

Along with these obstacles with hiring, the sector is also struggling with worries about employee retention and the intricate dynamics of external involvement, topics that pose particular difficulty in the cybersecurity sector.


Concerns over Staff Attrition and External Engagement

The data from BSS highlights another significant issue: employees in the cyber security industry are leaving. As a result of the ongoing pressure to keep ahead of growing risks, 19% of CISOs are now concerned that employees would quit their jobs.

Although the causes for such losses may differ, it is still evident that many firms are finding it difficult to keep talented workers. Such turnover can have an enormous impact, possibly resulting in security coverage gaps and a loss of institutional knowledge.

A BSS survey claims that 13% of CISOs stay in their positions for less than a year, illustrating the seriousness of the attrition problem within the information security leadership. A security policy’s consistency, the ability to respond to attacks, and the morale of the team can all be impacted by a short stay.

97% of those polled are working with outside partners and service providers to address these issues, including by making use of tools like virtual CISOs. This strategy may help with the short-term issues of hiring and keeping employees, but it also highlights how urgently the UK’s cyber security environment needs to address the underlying skills gaps and personnel attrition.

The value that CISOs get given within the company also presents a serious problem, in addition to recruitment and retention, significantly complicating the whole cybersecurity picture.

Lack of Recognition and Strategic Involvement

CISOs play a critical role in enterprises, but according to BSS research, they are not given the respect they need at the executive level. 28% of CISOs believe that the board recognises the importance of their position.

Organisations may underinvest in crucial cybersecurity activities as a result of this lack of comprehension and appreciation, making them more vulnerable to threats.

Only 22% of CISOs are actively involved in more general business plans and decision-making, according to BSS’s data, revealing a gap between cybersecurity and wide business goals. 49% of respondents agree that there isn’t enough C-level support for information security.

The efficiency of cybersecurity initiatives may be hampered by this lack of integration and strategic alignment with top-level management, which could compromise the company’s overall risk management approach.

It becomes crucial to consider the perceptions and recommendations offered by industry professionals like BSS to navigate this difficult environment in light of these diverse problems.

As the research makes clear, dealing with these issues requires more than just filling open positions; it is a strategic imperative that necessitates a thorough comprehension, collaboration, and action to guarantee that UK businesses remain adaptable and resilient in a digital environment that is becoming more volatile.