Breakfast roundtable: Bridging the Cyber Security Skills Gap

By March 5, 2019UK

House of Commons, Tuesday February 26th, 2019  

By Andrew Kernahan, Political Intelligence 

On Tuesday February 26th, Political Intelligence brought together a range of parliamentarians, government officials, industry and third sector organisations to discuss closing the cyber security skills gap over breakfast in the House of Commons. The agenda focused on meeting the need for specialist skills, how we mainstream cyber security across the economy and how collaboration can achieve change. 

The debate was chaired by Jo Platt MP, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, who introduced the discussion by asking how her constituency of Leigh could benefit from cyber security skills in the same way tech hubs in places such as central Manchester and London can. During the discussion, several key takeaways emerged: 

  • Apprenticeships play an important role in filling specialist roles, yet there is room to improve their effectiveness, including by learning lessons from similar sectors that use competency-based approaches  
  • Preparing for future challenges such as the impact of AI and automation. It is important that we not only train the right kind of highly-skilled technical graduates for the future but with automation expected to impact millions of workers across the country, there is a real opportunity to bridge the gap with a skills programme fit for the future 
  • The need for broader skills to complement technical skills. In addition to the need to fill deep technical skills, there was a feeling that cyber security needs to be complemented with a wide and broad set of skills to help explain technical information to a variety of audiences and to give confidence and credibility  
  • Awareness raising. There was strong agreement that both Government and industry need to communicate cyber security better. Rather than glorifying in overly technical information, the industry needs to do more to compete against higher profile recruiting sectors that hoover up skilled candidates. 
  • Role of Government. Government had a real role to play in leading the charge to address the skills gap, yet industry also needed to lead, and there should be a shift from a top down to a bottom up approach. 
  • Standards. The group agreed that standards and professionalisation are required to help boost the reputation of the industry and provide a clear career pathway and steps being put in place to professionalise the cyber security industry, such as a Cyber Security Council, would eventually have a similar impact.