UK cyber security workforce up 163% in five years

Private and public sector step up efforts to close the cyber security skills gap in the face of a global skills shortage

The UK cyber security workforce has grown by 163% in the past five years to 58,000, according to a research report by the Tech Partnership, a network of employers seeking to promote cyber skills.

The report, based on data from information technology job tracking firm IT Jobs Watch and the quarterly labour force survey by the Office for National Statistics, is encouraging in the light of growing concerns about the international shortage of people with cyber security skills.

The data shows that salaries are up 7% in the past year to about £57,000 a year, which is 15% higher than for tech specialists as a whole. This also bodes well for the future as it may help to attract more young people to the increasingly important information security profession.

Just under half of the cyber security workforce is employed in digital industries, while banking accounts for 20% and the public sector 12%.

“In today’s data-driven world, nothing is more important for UK businesses than maintaining security,” said    Karen Price, chief executive of the Tech Partnership.

“Developing the skills to protect ourselves is a national priority, and needs action at every level: at schools and universities, through digital apprenticeships, and through upskilling for experienced professionals.”

Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan has forecast a worldwide shortfall of 1.5 million information security professionals by 2020.

In view of this need, Price said employers are joining forces to make a difference in all these areas, and are working with government to ensure the UK has the skilled staff needed to maintain a leadership position in cyber security and operate safely in the global tech environment.

Looking at the detail of demand for digital specialists – based on advertised vacancies over the period – almost 7,000 roles were available in each quarter of the past year.

This is up 18% on the year before and has more than doubled since 2011. Mirroring the strength of the banking and tech industries in London and the South East, demand is strongest in these regions.

The data shows 61% of advertised vacancies are based in and around the capital. However, cyber roles are growing in all UK nations and regions, with the highest figures recorded in Wales and the East Midlands.

Just five roles make up three-quarters of all jobs posted, signalling that the greatest demand is for security analysts, security consultants, security engineers, security managers and security architects.

The best-paid cyber specialists are security architects, reflecting their high levels of experience and expertise. They command average annual salaries of more than £70,000, and while they represent only 11% of the profession, demand for their skills has grown by 269% in the past five years.

The core process and methodological skills in demand have remained constant over the past year, with information security, firewall and network security featuring in 84% of all job advertisements.

However, there are large increases in demand for some more specialist areas, with cyber crime up 264% and big data up 202%.

Certifications remain important as a guarantee of knowledge, with certified information systems security professional (CISSP) and ISO/IEC 27001 featuring in almost one-third of all job advertisements.


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