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Ireland needs 10,000 cybersecurity workers to plug skills gap, report says

27 Oct 2021

Across Europe, there is an estimated cybersecurity skills shortage of more than 199,000 professionals.

Ireland has an estimated 15,000 cybersecurity workers, but needs 10,000 more to meet rising demand for professionals with infosec skills. That’s according to non-profit cybersecurity network (ISC)2’s latest annual report, which looked at global and regional cybersecurity workforce gaps.

The international network collected data from 4,753 cybersecurity and IT professionals who work with small, medium and large organisations throughout the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific regions.

The study is conducted annually to assess the cybersecurity workforce gap and better understand the barriers facing the sector. It revealed a decrease in the global workforce shortage for the second consecutive year, from 3.12m down to 2.72m people.

However, the cybersecurity skills shortage is an issue that has been raised in Ireland and around the world in recent years.

In its 2021 report, Cyber Ireland estimated that the industry employs more than 7,000 people in Ireland and almost 30,000 professionals have infosec-related skills. But it highlighted that a severe shortage of cybersecurity professionals could impact organisations of all shapes and sizes.

Several Irish higher education institutes, including IT Sligo, University of Limerick and Munster Technological University have launched initiatives recently in a bid to encourage more people to get into the cybersecurity sector.

According to the (ISC)2 report, there is a cybersecurity skills shortage of more than 199,000 across Europe, up from more than 168,000 in 2020 but down from the pre-pandemic figure of more than 291,000 in 2019.

While there has been an estimated 700,000 new entrants to this sector globally since 2020, demand for workers continues to outpace the supply of talent. (ISC)2 said the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by about 65pc to effectively defend organisations’ critical assets.

“Any increase in the global supply of cybersecurity professionals is encouraging, but let’s be realistic about what we still need and the urgency of the task before us,” said Clar Rosso, CEO of (ISC)2.

“The study tells us where talent is needed most and that traditional hiring practices are insufficient. We must put people before technology, invest in their development and embrace remote work as an opportunity. And perhaps most importantly, organisations must adopt meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion practices to meet employee expectations and close the gap,” Rosso recommended.

While the majority (77pc) of cybersecurity professionals surveyed by (ISC)2 said they were happy in their jobs, the report found several areas for improvement. When under-resourced, respondents said their teams experienced misconfigured systems, rushed deployments, slowly patched critical systems and not enough time for proper risk assessment and management.

Cloud computing security was found to be the top priority for cybersecurity professionals’ skills development over the next two years. Just under 40pc said their organisations were using cloud service providers to overcome their workforce gaps.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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