Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, The UK Cyber Security Council has revealed how a more diverse workforce can plug the cyber industry’s skills gap and bolster the UK’s resilience against online threats.
With an ambition to ensure the UK becomes the safest place to live and work online, the UK Cyber Security Council has partnered with Women in Cyber Security (WiCyS UK) for an event on 8th March 2022.
Exploring sector diversity and barriers to entry, the virtual sessions will hear from high-profile individuals working within cyber, which aims to inspire current practitioners and educate potential entrants to the industry.
Although the UK’s cyber sector employs an estimated 52,700 individuals, diversity has been identified as a key area of growth as the sector tackles increased cyber risks. An estimated 16 per cent of the workforce are women, 17 per cent come from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and just 9 per cent self-describe as being neurodiverse.
According to the UK Cyber Security Council, the importance of the sector is growing exponentially in line with our increasingly connected and digital lives, however increased demand has also created a skills gap. The Council believes overcoming barriers to entry and a push for greater diversity is a pivotal issue for the sector which, if overlooked, could leave the country more vulnerable to future cyber-attacks.
The UK Cyber Security Council’s CEO, Simon Hepburn, said: “One of the government’s key aims is to establish the UK as one of the safest places to live and do business online and to do that, the Council will work to bridge the industry’s skills gap.
“An intrinsic element for that ambition will be for the Council to help remove barriers for entry, helping individuals across a broad range of demographics and backgrounds to recognise just how rewarding a career in the sector can be.”
Despite contributing £5.3 billion in GVA to the UK economy, there is an annual reported shortfall of 10,000 practitioners within the industry, and half of the businesses in the UK report a basic skills gap when it comes to cyber, despite the increasing importance of digital resilience to counter threats.
Dr. Claudia Natanson, The UK Cyber Security Council’s Chair, said: “We want the sector to be truly representative of all sections of society, and for every employee, contractor or supplier to feel acknowledged, respected and able to be their best.
“Ethics aside, it also makes for a compelling business argument. According to a recent study by Cleverpop, more gender-diverse teams make better business decisions due to fresh perspectives being brought to the table.
“In addition to worsening the sector’s skills gap, a less diverse workforce can stifle innovation and can lead to intrinsic biases within organisations, which cybercriminals can – and will – take full advantage of.
“The sector has a long way to go to achieve gender parity, but we’re excited to be partnering with WiCyS for this event to take initial steps to overcome the problems. It’ll be a great session for people to engage with each other, learn more about routes into the profession, career development opportunities and best practice in this exciting industry.”
Formed as the voice of the UK’s cyber security profession, the Council provides broad representation for the industry and promotes excellence across the profession. In accordance with the UK government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, its role is to develop, promote and align professional standards, and encourage progression along cyber security career paths.