Security Is Key To Remaining Innovative Amid Recession

Despite the impact of the pandemic, the UK’s technology sector has continued to grow, with Britain now home to a booming number of unicorn startups as well as global technology giants. Most recently, the UK Chancollor set out his vision to create a “British Silicon Valley of the 21st century.” 

Despite these amibitions, many tech companies lack the digital skills they need to thrive in the challenging months that lie ahead, with recession looking ever more likely with UK inflation at 10.7%.

On top of this, the number of UK organisations reporting a problematic skills shortage has more than doubled from 23% to 51% over the past decade. In fact, the Government’s Digital Strategy document published earlier this year revealed the true extent of the digital skills gap, which is estimated to cost the economy over £60 billion per year.  

Amid an increasingly turbulent economic climate, our research shows that HR decision makers say cybersecurity is skill most lacking across tech companies. At the same time, cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and pose greater risk to companies then ever before. So, how can the UK’s tech sector close its cybersecurity skills gap to spur innovation while remaining safe from increased threat of cyberattacks? 

The Business Case For Security L&D

Currently, the majority (88%) of HR leaders within British tech companies plan to spend more than £25,000 in the next twelve months to fill crucial roles. However, the combination of recession and a widening skills gap is not one that companies can simply hire their way out of. 

While nearly 90% of companies will increase spend on tech-focused learning and development (L&D) over the next twelve months – specifically to safeguard against the increased threat of recession – our research shows that L&D spend is not being priortised for cybsecurity. This is despite cybersecurity skills being the most in-demand above software architecture, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). In fact, only a limited number of organisations are willing to spend more than £10,000 on recruitment (31%) and L&D (37%) combined to boost cybersecurity talent specifically. 

Despite this, many tech companies are willing to pay large salaries to recruit new security talent, with the average UK cybersecurity salary at nearly £65,000. Yet, investment in L&D iniativites remains low, with the tech sector planning to spend an average of £33,676 on recruitment compared to just £31,651 on L&D over the next twelve months. 

Creating A Skilled Workforce 

Cybersecurity attacks for any organisation should be considered a real threat - it is not simply a matter of if it will happen, but when. The best way to protect the business is through learning and development within the security sector. In the year ahead, both employers and employees must work together to create a highly skilled workforce. 

With more than half of tech workers currently considering a career change, tech leaders must recognise they have a larger role to play internally to bolster cybersecurity skills. Instead of looking to recruitment alone to identify and hire fresh talent, they must put adequate support and financial investment behind internal upskilling programmes. 

At the same time, employees should be granted access to a range of learning opportunities as part of a defined path of individual development and wider organisational culture of personal development. Employees seeking to make themselves an invaluable asset to their organisation should place focus on cybersecurity-related L&D. Managaement will respond well to employees that proactively identify training opportunities with a quality L&D partner, one that aligns with their unique learning style and objectives. 

Ultimately, the digital skills gap will not be closed through recruitment alone, so now is the time for tech companies to invest in their employees and deploy upskilling programmes, which will be vital to bolster innovation and safeguard the UK’s position as a global tech powerhouse, while remaining protected from heightened cybersecurity threats. 

Alexia Pedersen is VP of EMEA at O’Reilly

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