Cyber Security and Digital Skills in 2021

Increasing Demand for Cyber Security and Digital Skills in 2021

Introduction: The Demand for Cyber Security and Digital Skills

Did you know that four in ten businesses report having Cyber Security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months? What’s worse, among those that have identified breaches or attacks, over a quarter experience them once a week. 77% of businesses agree that Cyber Security is a high priority, so why are these crime rates still so high?

In this digital, fast-evolving world, there is no avoiding the cyber dangers that lurk around every corner. At The Specialists Hub, we think that knowledge is power; the more you know, the better equipped you are to tackle these problems head-on. Read on for details about these issues and what we’re doing to combat them.

 

The Repercussions of COVID-19 on the Digital and Cyber Landscape 

A 2021 government report found that the risk level is higher than ever under COVID-19, and many businesses are finding it hard to administer Cyber Security measures during the pandemic. Fewer businesses are deploying security monitoring tools or undertaking any form of user monitoring, potentially leading to a lack of awareness of the breaches and attacks their staff are facing.

COVID-19 has been a catalyst for digital transformation, changing the way a lot of us work with a vast increase in the number of employees working from home and utilising technology. This rise in digital usage comes with its own new set of cyber risks, requiring new approaches. The increased number of employees working remotely goes hand in hand with the increase of phishing attacks, fraudulent websites, and data breaches. Meetings that were once held in person are occurring online; no company would invite a criminal with no name and no face to listen in on their private discussions, but suddenly it becomes plausible. For a UK company, the average cost of a data breach is £3.6m, this has increased by £104,000 since 2019 following the increase of employees working from home. The unprecedented challenges that have arisen outline that many companies need extra support, even as we emerge from the worst stages of the virus.

The pandemic has stretched many organisations’ Cyber Security teams to their limits. We’re here to help in the way which is most useful to you and your company, with tailored solutions and training schemes, allowing for an appropriate and effective outcome. With up to 100% funding offered for Digital and Cyber Security apprenticeship training courses, and many alternative courses available, the question here is: What have you got to lose? In response, a cyber-criminal would say “a lot”.

 

Cyber Skills Shortages and its Impact

A recent report carried out on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found that approximately 50% of businesses have a cyber security basic skills gap and are in need of help from external cyber security training providers like The Specialists Hub. This research also found that almost half (45%) of businesses have just one employee responsible for cyber security. That’s a lot of strain on one person’s shoulders, but by spreading the workload through staff training you are decreasing the risk of an attack.

Cyber skills are relevant and necessary to every industry and aren’t just digital and cyber specific. No matter how big or small, every organisation runs the risk of being targeted by criminals from the virtual underworld. Whether under threat or not, the value of digital skills is increasing each day, and will only become more useful as we continue to metamorphose into a digital planet.

Most of us will have a handful of core technical skills, but in order to progress on a clear pathway to a specific role, employees often need to widen the scope of their skill set or delve deeper into a specific field. We can train your employees to be experts in the crucial areas that your business needs as outlined by the government, such as information security, data protection and business risk. Let us not only increase your security but enable your business to grow.

A thriving region with more than 10,000 digital and tech businesses, Greater Manchester is the largest digital cluster outside of London, and the fastest-growing tech city within Europe. What we offer the cyber ecosystem is bespoke or wide-scale training through one of our specialist academies, supporting the government’s nationwide call for digital and cyber skills. Through working with apprentices and delivering Skills Bootcamps, we continue to provide the industry with a diverse talent pool, and our MEN Tech award for our work with SME businesses and apprentices further cements our contribution to the cyber and digital landscape.

 

Your business’s Digital Footprint and How it may Expose you

Almost every business has some form of digital footprint. This may take the form of an online bank account, social media pages or accounts, personal data held electronically, and network-connected devices. More than nine in ten companies have at least one of the listed items, and these exposure points are in addition to websites and staff email accounts.

According to government research, this year sees a significant increase in businesses dealing with finances online, both in terms of having an online bank account, and accepting payments, and many businesses hold personal data about customers. Both factors contribute to wider-scale risk, and it is no secret that the larger your digital footprint is, the more at threat you are to third parties exposing sensitive information, leaving your organisation open to be exploited.

Having said this, we know it is impossible for any successful company to function and promote without a digital footprint, which is why awareness of such risks is important. To tackle this, The Specialists Hub aims to enable businesses and individuals alike to identify, manage and minimise these risks. By training your employees to be more cyber-aware, you are building up a defence system from within. We offer quality apprenticeship training programmes in Digital and Tech, Sales and Marketing, Cyber Security and Business and Management; delivered remotely, or on-site at one of our training centres, and can tailor programmes to suit your organisation’s specific needs.

 

Looking to the Future: The Necessity of Digital Skills

As mentioned earlier, digital skills are and will always be as relevant as ever, but as a country, we have a shortage. For example, data is a prominent skills gap but is essential, with the UK data economy being worth £125 billion, and up to 234,000 data roles to be filled.

The UK labour market hand in hand with technological changes is moving towards digital domination, with most of the UK workforce already requiring a basic level of digital literacy. Yet recent research discovered that one in ten UK employees completely lack basic digital skills. This is in addition to many of the unemployed population struggling to find work due to the absence of these crucial digital skills, with the research finding a direct correlation between workers’ success in the labour market and general digital skills.

We have established that the need for these skills is just going to grow. Already, almost half (47%) of cyber firms have faced problems with technical cyber security skills gaps, among both existing staff and applicants. Many of these businesses have pointed out that job applicants lacking these digital skills has prevented them from achieving business goals to a great extent.

What we’re doing to combat this is supporting the government’s call to action and preparing the UK’s workforce for the future with our Digital Skills Bootcamps and apprenticeships. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority also has a scheme in place, supported by businesses such as Lloyds, who transfer their unspent apprenticeship levy to enable SME businesses, allowing access to that critical training, granting 100% funding for several of our courses. We are offering businesses and aspirational individuals alike the chance of upskilling, personal development, and preparation for the digital future.

References:

Current and future demand for digital skills – a call to action 2019: Research and analysis, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (assets.publishing.gov) [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/current-and-future-demand-for-digital-skills-in-the-workplace

Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (assets.publishing.gov) [Online] Available at Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Cyber security skills in the UK labour market 2021: Technical report, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (assets.publishing.gov) [Online] Available at Ipsos MORI report (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Industry labour market and skills intelligence report 2020: Digital and technology version 1 (Greater Manchester.gov) [Online] Available at: https://greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/media/3918/industry-labour-market-skills-report-digital-tech.pdf

Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap 2021: Policy paper, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (assets.publishing.gov) [Online] Available at Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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