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Australian cybersecurity experts now worth a premium as skills shortage bites

07 Aug 17

Employment and recruiting firm Hays has backed up statistics about Australia’s cyber skills shortage, as it faces increasing demand for professionals but very few who fit the bill.

The company says that organisations are increasing their cybersecurity spend – and their hunt for professionals who protect them.

Hays Information Technology senior regional director Adam Shapley says organisations realise that effects of cyberattacks are far-reaching. The after-effects can also be devastating to a business and its customers.

“Employers want to be better positioned to protect customer data and IT security. There’s more awareness that as the threats become more sophisticated they become more difficult to keep up with, so organisations want to address these issues now,” he says.

He says that businesses are seeing this issue as a priority, however attracting the small pool of experts to the roles is more difficult than ever. There is now a premium on candidates.

“We have seen an increase in both contract and permanent demand for security experts across a range of organisations, with security analysts and security architects, cyber threat intelligence analysts, consultants and cyber incident analysts all needed,” Shapley says.

While he believes the cybersecurity jobs market is still in development, this has led to the expertise shortage.

“There are a limited number of professionals with the right skill set required by organisations. If a company is struggling to find the person they need, they could consider taking on someone with a general IT background and upskilling them into their new cyber security role,” he says.

Earlier this year the Australian Government announced that it would channel more funding into cybersecurity skills training through the country’s first Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence (ACCSE).

The program will be led by the University of Melbourne and Edith Cowan University.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham says the centres will encourage uptake of both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in cybersecurity.

“Our ambition is to attract more of Australia's best and brightest into this critically important area, regardless of their background. Graduates from the successful centres of excellence will be equipped with the best knowledge to meet the needs of the cyber industry, business and government,” he says.

Dan Tehan, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, says part of the Government’s $230 million cybersecurity strategy is to develop the professionals needed to keep us safe.

““Encouraging a generation of Australian cyber security professionals is good for our cyber security, good for the economy and good for the young Australians who pursue careers in this area,” he says.

Birmingham adds that the centres will also help to commercialise cybersecurity research and to benefit Australia’s SMEs.

The Government estimates that $400 million will be required over the next decade to boost Australia’s cyber intelligence capabilities and create 800 specialist jobs.

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