Employers harness new talent tactics to better protect against IT security breaches

Employers harness new talent tactics to better protect against IT security breaches
Demand for new IT Security skills has dropped by 5% in the past year, according to the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report from Experis.

While some may interpret this fall in demand as meaning that it’s becoming less of a priority, it may actually prove the opposite: that a cultural shift has occurred in how organisations view and manage IT security. Countless organisations have fallen victim to hacks and security breaches in recent years, causing significant financial and reputational damage. Add to this the impending introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it soon becomes clear why IT Security is firmly on the boardroom agenda for 2018 and beyond.

In spite of this, the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report reveals that demand for new IT Security skills has fallen over the last year. The decline in demand is most acute in the permanent market, which has fallen by 10% year-on-year. Furthermore, the research also found that the average salary for a permanent cyber security role (£60,004) is much lower than a Big Data specialist can expect (£70,945).

These figures paint a complex picture of the cyber security landscape. While hacks are on the rise, the slowing demand indicates that businesses no longer require as many IT Security specialists. The Internet of Things has transformed the way that companies across every industry work; and cyber security is now everyone’s responsibility – not just the IT department’s. From Web Development to Big Data and Mobile, businesses are conscious that IT Security needs to be factored into all digital projects from the start and employers are upskilling their existing workforce in response.

However, in what is being dubbed ‘the year of regulation’ and following several years dominated by major hacks and security breaches, businesses need to ensure that they are not resting on their laurels when it comes to keeping pace with the ever more sophisticated cyber threats they will face.

A cultural shift in IT security management

Increasingly, businesses recognise that IT Security is now a core competency that’s woven into a wide range of both technical and non-technical roles. Consequently, employers are looking to upskill their entire workforce in security matters, rather than solely relying on the talents of specialists. While this is a necessary step, as cyber threats become ever more sophisticated, businesses shouldn’t neglect recruiting the specialists they need to keep pace.

This cultural shift in the management of IT Security can also be seen in the contractor market. Tech Cities Job Watch found that demand for new IT Security contractors has increased by 24% year-on-year, while day rates dropped by 13%. Instead of looking to contractors to manage large-scale, specialist security transformation projects, organisations are using them to plug short-term skills gaps. By allocating them to lower value, higher volume security tasks, they’re able to free up the time of permanent staff members to focus on more complex, strategic transformation projects.

The public sector impact

Looking more broadly at the findings, there is also evidence that developments in the public sector are having a significant and long-lasting impact on the jobs market; with budget cuts and the introduction of IR35 artificially forcing down the market value of IT Security contractor day rates.

The extensive architecture and high-profile nature of public sector work will always ensure the volume demand of IT Security contractor work, but the downward pressure on day rates could see the supply of workers transition to permanent roles in the private sector – potentially leaving the public sector understaffed and vulnerable to attack.

Many contractors are uniting in response to this, forming their own contractor businesses to work on a subscription based model. If this trend continues, we could see these new players disrupt the traditional large enterprise outsourcers in 2018 and beyond.

As artificial intelligence and machine learning become more sophisticated, we expect the IT Security landscape to evolve once again in the years ahead. Enhanced security management tools have the potential to support threat detection and lower the required organisational headcount. While the road ahead may be unclear, organisations need to think more long-term about IT Security, and make it a priority for the many, not the few.

To find out more, visit techcities.experis.co.uk

This article first appeared in the eighth edition of The Human Age Newspaper.