The huge global shortfall in cybersecurity professionals has dropped for the first time since records began, thanks to more joining the industry and pandemic-related uncertainties on the demand side, according to (ISC)2.
The non-profit certifications organization interviewed 3790 industry respondents around the world to better understand the current challenges facing the sector.
Its 2020 Cybersecurity Workforce Study revealed that 700,000 extra professionals, or 25% more than last year’s workforce estimate, have joined the industry — expanding its ranks to around 3.5 million.
The shortfall in skills has therefore dropped from 4.07 million last year to 3.12 million.
Not all of this is good news: the closing gap can partly be explained by job losses as COVID-19 hits security budgets. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents said that they or a peer had been let go as a result of the pandemic. More than half (54%) said they’re concerned about personnel spending and 51% are worried about technology spending going forward.
As well as lay-offs, 40% of respondents said that they or a peer had their salary reduced, 36% had their hours reduced and 9% had been moved from a full-time to a contract-based role.
In fact, in a new PwC report, over a fifth (22%) of UK business and technology leaders said they are planning to downsize their security teams, versus a global figure of 16%.
The irony is that security has never been more important in a world of mass remote working and digital transformation. Over half (56%) of respondents to the study said their organizations are at risk due to cybersecurity staff shortages.
Cloud security is the most in-demand skillset, with 40% of respondents stating they plan to develop it over the next two years.
Interestingly, only half (49%) of those working in the industry actually have degrees in computer and information sciences, highlighting the importance of employers looking outside the sector to find fresh blood.
A major recruitment drive is still needed to alleviate skills shortages: employment needs to grow by around 41% in the US and 89% worldwide to fill the talent gap, the report claimed.