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November 2, 2015

A “Cyber Talent Pipeline” refers to an organization's creation of an going, readily available, talent pool to fill various cyber security jobs, as they become available. The effects of a poorly maintained pipeline is hitting the cyber security industry in full force. The supply is simply not available to meet the demand. With present reporting of over 200,000 unfilled jobs, and future shortage reports upward of 1 million by 2020, we are now faced with a need to create solutions that can not only feed the industry’s current demand, but prepares us to fill the open roles that continue to proliferate as our world becomes even more connected.There is no “1 size fits all” answer. Short term, we must provide practical training that helps provide professional crash courses in important skillsets, and encourage employers to lighten up on necessary qualifications. Long term, our solutions must be agile and capable enough to keep up with a complex, ever-evolving field; one, that will require professionals to develop sophisticated mindsets to coalesce with their fundamental technical skills.ADDRESSING THE SHORT TERM SHORTAGE:Filling our current shortage will be no easy task. We have to take into consideration educating, both, those already in the industry, as well as, those looking to begin a new career in cyber security. We will see:1)      Training and education that is both affordable and accessible. Reducing (if not eliminating) the high barrier to entry will allow current industry professionals to move their careers forward, opening up more entry-level roles to new talent. This should not only help balance out the market, but also, help with retention and churn.2)      More open-mindedness to the “years of experience” requirement. While ~83% of job listings specify a bachelor’s degree, some report that ~60,000 vacant cyber security jobs could be filled by individuals without a college degree.. We will start seeing organizations become more open to competencies and skills validations to staff entry-level skill-based roles.ADDRESSING THE LONG TERM SHORTAGE:Long term programs will help prepare for the perfect storm that is looming over us. When you combine the quickly growing Internet of Things with the impact of the largest generations entering retirement, we will see:1)      Infusing dynamic cyber security education, beginning at an early age. Programs that will see foundations in computer security become as fundamental as the alphabet and simple arithmetic. Programs evolving from a highly technical curriculum, to one that places a strong emphasis on soft skills. Psychology, sociology, communication and writing skills will all be highly featured in the next generation of cyber education.2)      Awareness of careers in cyber security. Alternative, non-traditional, career paths will be paved in order to stimulate the lagging market.3)      Increased partnerships between companies and schools/organizations. Generating these will not only expose future professionals to real-life cyber security experience; but, will also help supply a company’s pipeline, promoting the development of relationships once it becomes time for them to enter the workforceBy no means are these the be-all and end-all to fixing our current talent shortage. While the long term solutions here are commonly cited across the industry, the methodology for addressing our current needs is still up for debate. What we can all agree on, is admitting and agreeing that we have a problem is only the first step. It is time we start taking steps to fill this talent shortage by finding innovative ways to not only give those individuals who are interested in cyber security jobs the means to develop their skills, but also by connecting them to employers desperate to fill vacancies.
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