Cybersecurity Skills Gap is a Golden Career Opportunity

Students and graduates of today could be setting themselves up for a highly paid career path by exploring opportunities to upskill in the cybersecurity space as recruiters document record demand for professional IT security expertise.

TechnoJobs reports that cyber security vacancies grew 60% between 2021 and 2022, primarily because many industries transitioned to online working models during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The working world has adapted to offer remote and hybrid working positions, indicating that this spike in demand isn’t likely to recede any time soon. 

An increased prevalence of mobile app-based stores, online banking and service providers also commands a greater focus on cybersecurity to ensure users are not exposed to data risks and potential fraud.

Why Are Cybersecurity Vacancies Growing So Quickly? 

A post published on News24 last December reflects on why cybersecurity is such a critical aspect of the business framework – and the specific challenges for South African corporations.

Some of the key takeaways include the following:

  • Globally, there is a shortage of four million cybersecurity professionals.
  • Over 10% of internet users experience a malware attack every year.
  • Cybercriminals are evolving and becoming more sophisticated, creating a need for more innovative, problem-solving talents than typical IT programming skills.

Organisations are looking to shore up vulnerabilities and safeguard their digital data and assets from increasingly advanced cyber attacks by boosting internal skills and hiring specialists equipped to adapt and prevent developing cybercrime techniques.

Changes to data protection regulations and the importance of safeguarding customer information add to the urgent need to implement a robust, future-proof cybersecurity defence.

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Mid-sized businesses in the US report average losses of $1.56 million, so the issue is far from limited to South Africa.

How to Train as a Cybersecurity Specialist

If you are interested in adding to your IT skills or starting the path towards becoming a fully qualified professional, one of the potential routes is to enrol in one of the new occupational training programmes developed by the Banking Sector Education and Training Authority.

The skills development organisation has created new courses to help fill the gap in certified cybersecurity workers across South Africa. Cybersecurity Analyst Nash Lewis, a 28-year-old from Cape Town, explains how he pursued a cybersecurity career and landed his position at Wonga, a credit-based fintech leader serving South Africans nationwide.

His education began with studying IT and Mathematics at school, followed by a Bachelor’s in Computer Science at his local university.

From there, Lewis studied specific cybersecurity skills to blend his professional qualification with his personal interest in computing and technology. He is now an established analyst applying his abilities to proactively prevent and stop cyber-attacks.

Core responsibilities include identifying gaps and risks in systems, evaluating the severity of possible incidents, and managing responses to protect IT infrastructure from damage or exploitation.

Nash recommends younger students consider cybersecurity as a sector with significant demand for recruits and graduate trainees, particularly marginalised groups, to bring more diversity and experiences to the field.