Can Upskilling Close the Cyber Security Skills Gap? A Closer Look


Problems in cyber security are made worse by a need for more qualified workers in the field. For instance, in 2021, there were over 500,000 unfilled positions in cybersecurity in the United States. In addition to the difficulty of finding qualified candidates to fill open positions, a knowledge gap exists between the current cybersecurity workforce and the constant stream of emerging cyber threats.

According to the “2022 State of Upskilling Report” from Pluralsight, which polled 760 technology learners and leaders about the latest trends in skill development, 43% of respondents cited a lack of cybersecurity knowledge as their most significant personal skills gap. Additionally, 44% of respondents cited a need for cybersecurity talent as their primary concern.

As the cybersecurity landscape evolves rapidly, traditional approaches and knowledge need to be revised to combat the sophisticated and ever-evolving threats of the modern era. CEOs are ultimately responsible for equipping their IT staff with the knowledge and resources they need to maintain the security of their companies.

Organizations must take decisive and prompt action to ensure their IT departments are up-to-date on cybersecurity trends and threats.

How to Upskill Your Existing Staff?

Here are some suggestions for strengthening your IT department’s cybersecurity capabilities:

Give them what they need: The first step is to give cybersecurity professionals the tools they need, such as on-demand cybersecurity training, hands-on learning opportunities to understand the red and blue team perspectives, and flexible upskilling options that work around their busy schedules. No one in your organization, not even your cybersecurity experts, should be exempt from receiving proper cybersecurity training. Still, this training must be implemented practically and effectively.

Bring about ongoing educational opportunities: You can’t assume that your cyber security teams have mastered the art of foiling cybercriminals and future-proofing your cybersecurity program. To counteract these threats, new cybersecurity strategies are constantly being developed. The Zero-trust architecture, for instance, is gaining favor in both the public and private sectors, ushering in new procedures for security teams. Understanding the latest developments in cybersecurity isn’t enough; it takes a concerted effort in testing, implementation, and evaluation to ensure long-term success.

Make learning an integral part of your company’s culture so that your IT staff can prevent cyberattacks rather than having to respond to them. A systematic process is the best way to ensure your company stays updated on cybersecurity.
The demand for people with expertise in cybersecurity is only going to rise. The need for competent cybersecurity professionals is expected to increase as well. Companies that plan for their security initiatives, rather than reacting to attacks as they happen, will be better equipped to deal with emerging dangers.

“reskilling” describes preparing workers for a new line of work. Instead of going on a hiring binge, companies with a talented pool of employees in an obsolete field should reskill them.


The Current State of Cybersecurity

Every company and person is a target of cyber criminals in this age of crippling cyberattacks and publicized data breaches. A growing need for cybersecurity experts is a problem for many businesses today. Let’s look at the reasons for the widening gap and how companies can develop a practical plan for training their employees in cybersecurity.

An Emphasis on Capabilities

This method centers on improving the competence of the existing workforce so that the right people are performing the right tasks. The primary goal of this strategy is to reduce the time and energy spent on recruitment and onboarding by enhancing the workforce skill sets already in place.

There are some potential issues with implementing this strategy without conducting the necessary research. Due to the narrow nature of role definitions in this model, security personnel may find themselves trapped in their assigned roles and need help to make meaningful contributions consistently. Moreover, if a company needs to foster its talent and reskill its employees when necessary correctly, it will likely resort to talent acquisition to fill the skills gap.

An Emphasis on Risk

This method, which centers on developing a security strategy in sync with the organization’s threats, is commonly used by high-risk institutions like banks and healthcare providers. To protect their companies from myriad cyber threats, their security teams need personnel with a wide range of expertise.

While it contains many building blocks of an effective security plan, this strategy often needs to be revised because it leaves out key personnel and knowledge unrelated to the threats being addressed. Also, the training is only sometimes applicable to the real world of cyber threats, where risk constantly shifts and can be rigid and inflexible.

Each method has advantages and disadvantages, but deciding to implement either without conducting extensive analysis is a complete leap of faith. Leaders must proactively identify the organization’s risks and determine if the necessary skills are in place to mitigate them effectively.

However, with the emergence of cybersecurity frameworks like NICE and MITRE ATT&CK, skill development is becoming more streamlined and less arbitrary. Businesses can maximize talent pools and boost morale by combining upskilling and reskilling efforts.

Top Ways to Improve Your IT Staff’s Skills

There are many options for businesses to retrain or reskill cybersecurity workers. An organization’s structure and training needs will determine the best approach, and a comprehensive and individualized skill development strategy may involve several methods.

Academic Instruction

Your organization can close the skills gap and be ready to take on certification with the help of an authorized training provider’s service. If the training provider can customize the solution to your needs, it can quickly catapult your company toward higher efficiency and productivity.

Online Courses Taught by Experts

Virtual instructor-led training is the next best thing if a company can’t afford a traditional classroom training program. It saves time and money by not requiring participants to travel and provides a hands-on learning environment for cutting-edge technological advancements.
Learning from and Guiding Others
Team pairing, job shadowing, and employee-led workshops are all ways that businesses can foster a culture of learning and sharing. Training in this manner can take many forms, such as “train the teammate” sessions, which help employees improve their abilities while establishing a culture of learning and collegiality.

You don’t have to enroll in a course that lasts a whole month to benefit from eLearning. Especially in light of the current pandemic, eLearning is becoming increasingly popular for acquiring new competencies. Employees can learn a new skill at their own pace and in their own time with the help of online, self-paced learning.

Online Seminars and Conferences

It’s true that “seek, and you shall find” regarding education. At our fingertips, we have access to thousands of free online events and webinars covering various topics. Many companies actively encourage their staff to participate in such activities for professional development.

A company’s cyber risk exposure and existing skillset should inform its decision to upskill or reskill its workforce. This is fine with a simple answer. All readily available cybersecurity certifications can improve an organization’s cybersecurity preparedness, even if it only has basic requirements.

However, reskilling is also inevitable because new skills are always needed. A lack of technical knowledge is often not a prerequisite for entry-level cybersecurity certifications. As a result, qualified workers can acquire a broad set of cybersecurity skills that are valuable for their new positions.

Instruction in cyber defense is now required. It’s a crucial part of any business’s plan for survival in the face of the current economic and healthcare crisis and beyond.

-Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can upskilling help close the cybersecurity skills gap?

Yes, upskilling is crucial in closing the cybersecurity skills gap by providing existing staff with the necessary knowledge and capabilities to address evolving cyber threats. With proper training and skill development initiatives, organizations can empower their IT teams to stay updated on the latest cybersecurity trends and technologies, enhancing their ability to safeguard against potential cyberattacks.

2. What are some effective strategies for upskilling existing IT staff in cybersecurity?

Practical strategies for upskilling IT staff in cybersecurity include providing on-demand training, hands-on learning opportunities, and flexible upskilling options that accommodate busy schedules. Additionally, fostering a culture of ongoing education within the company can encourage continuous learning and skill development among IT professionals. By prioritizing cybersecurity training and resources, organizations can ensure that their IT departments are well-equipped to tackle emerging cyber threats effectively.

3. What are the key considerations for organizations when choosing between upskilling and reskilling their workforce in cybersecurity?

When deciding between upskilling and reskilling their workforce in cybersecurity, organizations should consider factors such as their current skill sets, cyber risk exposure, and organizational needs. Upskilling focuses on enhancing the capabilities of existing staff to address specific cybersecurity challenges, while reskilling involves preparing workers for entirely new roles or responsibilities within the cybersecurity field. Companies can determine the most appropriate approach to closing the cybersecurity skills gap by assessing their workforce’s skills and aligning them with organizational goals.

4. What are some of the top ways to improve IT staff’s skills in cybersecurity?

There are several ways to improve IT staff’s skills in cybersecurity, including academic instruction through authorized training providers, online courses taught by experts, and participation in online seminars and conferences. Additionally, fostering a culture of learning and sharing within the organization through team pairing, job shadowing, and employee-led workshops can facilitate skill development and knowledge sharing among IT professionals. By leveraging these methods, organizations can effectively enhance their IT staff’s cybersecurity capabilities and readiness to address cyber threats.