Growing government and private-sector cybersecurity investments are bringing much-needed attention to a critical sector of Australia's economy - but increasing demand for cybersecurity skills is also exacerbating the scarcity of suitably skilled cybersecurity professionals in an increasingly competitive market where even recent university graduates struggle to find work.
That market has become so competitive that recent ESG research found 46 percent of organisations say they have a "problematic shortage" of cybersecurity skills this year, up from 28 percent last year.
IT systems integrators are struggling to find skilled security staff to service their customers, with 86 percent of respondents to a recent CompTIA survey confirming they were suffering from a security skills gap. Availability of security skills has emerged as a key area of demand this year as academics warn that the Australian government's cybersecurity response is decades behind those of comparable countries.
Cybersecurity is held as being crucial to Australia's economic future but, many argue, Australia's academic and business institutions are producing the wrong skills for the wrong century - driving claims that an adequate cybersecurity response will require "fresh thinking" from Australian industry leaders and policymakers.
Even academic organisations are feeling the pinch as cybersecurity continues to suffer brand-recognition problems and efforts to stimulate STEM education at university level will take decades to pay off; in the meantime, universities are working overtime to resolve persistent and long-standing gaps between the skills that graduates have and those that employers need.
"This is something being addressed at all different levels within Deakin," says Sanjay Verma, head of information security and risk with Melbourne-based Deakin University, who has experienced firsthand how challenging it is to source skilled security professionals for his IT operation. Recognising that Australia continues to struggle both in terms of the availability of cybersecurity skills and in matching qualified candidates with the right jobs, Verma has become a vocal advocate for the new Cyber Security Online Marketplace (CSOM), a join venture between CSO Australia and SkillSapien that that matches skilled cybersecurity job seekers with the jobs they are looking for.
CSOM has been designed for ease of use, allowing users to instantly bring in their LinkedIn profiles to a site where they can search through available security-related jobs - anonymously if they wish - or register to be notified as new opportunities emerge.
CSOM also facilitates confidential chats with potential employers to help those employers quickly narrow down their shortlists of candidates. The portal is invaluable for current university students and recent graduates that have great potential but need on-the-job training to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. "Imagine having direct access to a really few smart undergraduates and getting them involved in your newest Agile project where you want to drive 'Secure by Design'," says David Gee, a security consultant who has been involved in CSOM's design. "Students will love the experience and be able to work with the standup meetings, and also with the more senior staff to learn from them.
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