This US industry is prime for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement!

Cybersecurity, one of the fastest growing job skills of the new economy, is also one that holds the fastest growing skills gap. For the financial services and insurance industry –the largest spenders and consumers of cybersecurity technology next to government – the cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant.

The latest report from CyberSeek shows an estimated 285,681 job openings today. Every year, 40,000 information security jobs remain unfulfilled in the US. US employers also report a current deficit of over 200,000 “other security-related” roles.

The numbers get even more alarming. By 2021, Cybersecurity Jobs Report forecasts that the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million. The cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant globally.

What are the reactions from Financial Services and Insurance leaders? A recent McAfee report, Hacking the Skills Shortage: A focus on the cybersecurity skills shortage in Financial Services and Insurance reveal:

  • 82% of respondents report a shortage of cybersecurity skills
  • 71% of respondents attest that cybersecurity shortages leave companies vulnerable to hacking targets, reputation, and data loss
  • 53% of respondents say the cybersecurity skills shortage is their worst IT talent deficit
  • 50% of respondents believe a bachelor’ degree is required for field entry, even though few universities and colleges have cybersecurity concentrations
  • 76% of respondents feel government is not sufficiently investing in helping to develop cybersecurity talent

Why should US Financial Services and Insurance companies be primed for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement?

  • Education and training investments are not optimized to suit how cybersecurity skills are best learned and applied. Apprenticeship programs create hands-on, multi dimensional learning environments.
  • Cybercrime is an evolving industry that grows in scale and sophistication. Traditional academic curriculum can’t prepare for what may have happened last week, nor predict what might happen next month. Apprenticeship programs create a learning culture that is real-time.
  • Competition for and scarcity of skilled labor causes wages to rise, and loyalties to shrink- especially in this industry.  Apprenticeships programs offer pathways to growth that balance skill development with increased earning potential. These standards increase retention and inspire loyalty.

Still, US apprenticeship programs remain scarce – despite proven results of program effectiveness in other countries. 21st century US apprenticeship programs in new skill areas (such as those relating to IT and cyber) are theoretically endorsed, politically supported, and conceptually embraced. Yet, overall US employer adoption is slow to take hold.

Build it, and they will come.  Companies need to collectively commit to advancing an apprenticeship movement.  As an industry at peak risk for cyber crime, US financial services and insurance companies should challenge their traditional recruitment and education paradigms.  Apprenticeships, as a strategic focus, can help to solve our nation’s growing cybersecurity talent shortage. And that, my FSI friends, results in a win/win for all concerned.