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GOV UK reports record numbers of cybersecurity applicants Vercara Comments

June 2023 by Michael Smith, CTO at Vercara

Yesterday, the UK government reported* over 3,600 people are looking to embark on a new career in cyber this year through applications to its Upskill in Cyber programme. Aimed at people from a non-cyber background and delivered in partnership with the SANS Institute, the scheme is the latest in a series of ambitious programmes delivered through the government’s £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy.

Michael Smith, CTO at Vercara (former security advisor for 2014 World Cup) welcomes this announcement:

“Cyber skills are in huge demand across the economy. New industry and government-led initiatives such as this one can attract more people to the cybersecurity field, but a long-term solution to the skills gap requires a more holistic approach, led by cybersecurity leaders, that prioritises developing talent from within. It’s more than a recruitment plan; it’s a practical long-term cybersecurity strategy. This is necessary because when we hire staff in this industry, we expect them to have such a wide range of skills that no one person will have the exact combination that is in the job description. When we do find somebody with all of those skills, they are usually outside of commuting distance and they’re incredibly expensive.

“With the ongoing skills shortage, CISOs are having to become more creative and hands-on in finding and attracting talent. There are some great alternative approaches that can help security leaders opt out of the cybersecurity talent arms race, though they require some ingenuity and patience. In the meantime, leaders should continue to make use of these industry or government-led programmes aimed at expanding the talent pipeline. Tapping into these initiatives will help you find talent from parallel fields with transferrable skills and an eagerness to learn, then organisations can focus on upskilling these recruits and helping them to develop over time within the company.

“This longer-term approach to nurturing talent from within can make knowledge-sharing and upskilling an integral part of a company’s culture, delivering significant long-term skills benefits for new and existing practitioners within an organisation as well as addressing the UK’s wider talent gap. Afterall, it will be a collective effort; every organisation has a part to play.”

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