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August 18, 2020 by Susan Morrow


No doubt you will have noticed, in the past few years, that voices are being raised about something called the “skills gap.” The discussion is not just happening in the U.S. Countries like the UK and India have set government-industry partnership motions in place to try and address this. One such project is from the World Economic Forum, which has developed an initiative called “Closing the Skills Gap.”

But is it real? Is there an actual skills gap? It can’t be for lack of humans to do jobs — the world population is around 7.8 billion as of December 2019. And it can’t be for lack of education, either. Around 1.8% of the U.S. population has a Ph.D., and almost 21% have a bachelor’s degree. As a SHRM report pointed out, in the U.S., “7 million jobs were open in December 2018, but only 6.3 million unemployed … “

However, we then see concerning statistics about the skills gap — such as those from a study by CompTIA, showing that 47% of SMBs see the skills gap growing. In terms of IT security skills specifically, the situation only ever seems to get worse. (ISC)2 recently reported that, globally, the workforce has to grow 145% to meet the skills gap in IT security jobs.

There is a lot of conjecture and surveys looking at the skills gap in IT and security as well as other areas of industry, In this article, I’ll drill down into those studies and see what the situation actually looks like.

  • There is a lot of conjecture
  • There is a lot of conjecture
  • There is a lot of conjecture
  • There is a lot of conjecture
  • There is a lot of conjecture

What is a skills gap?

Before starting, I’ll set out what we mean by a skills gap.

The skills gap is not unique to the tech or information security industry. As we have seen, a skills gap has been identified by multiple entities, including the WEF and CompTIA. This lack of skills seems to be pervasive and crosses industrial boundaries.

A skills gap occurs when the skills required to perform a job are not met by the existing workforce. This can happen when the education and training systems do not reflect changes in business processes, technological changes and demographic adjustments. As a result, we have a surplus of jobs that no one is completely qualified to perform.

Why is this? Well, one thing driving the skills gap is that the industry has been going through major changes, with digital transformation being the watchword of the 2010s. New technologies create new processes. In the 2020s, this looks like a case of not having the right people to take real advantage of this technological revolution.

This brings us to the question: do we need a revolution in skills as well as in industry?

Posted: August 18, 2020
Susan Morrow
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Susan Morrow is a cybersecurity and digital identity expert with over 20 years of experience. Before moving into the tech sector, she was an analytical chemist working in environmental and pharmaceutical analysis. Currently, Susan is Head of R&D at UK-based Avoco Secure. Susan’s expertise includes usability, accessibility and data privacy within a consumer digital transaction context. She was named a 2020 Most Influential Women in UK Tech by Computer Weekly and shortlisted by WeAreTechWomen as a Top 100 Women in Tech. Susan is on the advisory board of Surfshark and Think Digital Partners, and regularly writes on identity and security for CSO Online and Infosec Resources. Her mantra is to ensure human beings control technology, not the other way around.