A recent study by McAfee surveyed IT decision-makers at companies around the world and found that 82 percent of respondents reported a shortage of cybersecurity skills in their organizations.

Of all the talent shortages facing companies, the lack of cybersecurity experts could be one of the most damaging. If companies lack the resources to protect themselves from existing threats and stay ahead of emerging dangers, they’re vulnerable to data breaches, revenue loss and reputation damage.

Even though this skills gap is a widespread issue that affects many industries and countries, individual companies can take steps to improve the situation in their organizations and minimize risk. Employers should be looking to foster, attract and retain top cybersecurity talent.

Partner with Schools

The path to pursuing a cybersecurity job can begin early, so it’s important to identify and encourage students who may be interested in pursuing this career. Many companies accomplish this goal by partnering directly with local schools or schools with an IT focus.

Employers who wish to have a significant impact on emerging cybersecurity professionals can help shape the curricula for relevant classes to ensure that students are well prepared to work in the field. Companies can also fund scholarships or establish a presence on campus by participating in job fairs and sending representatives to speak on panels.

Develop a Training Programs for Students

Organizations that want to expand beyond a relationship with just a few schools should consider creating their own summer programs for students interested in IT careers. A cybersecurity internship program is ideal for college students, but employers can reach out to younger students by creating summer training and education programs for high schoolers who are thinking of entering these fields.

Your company could also organize regular hack-a-thons, just as the program GhostRed has done for hundreds of high school and college students. These types of competitions challenge students, identify top talent and drive greater awareness in the cybersecurity field, according to online MBA program MBA@UNC.

Retain Current Cybersecurity Experts

A shortage of cybersecurity experts can drive intense competition for top talent, which means current employees likely have other appealing employment opportunities. Instead of solely focusing on fostering and attracting new talent, companies should also take steps to create a positive work environment for current employees with cybersecurity expertise.

Some great ways to keep current employees engaged and increase job satisfaction include:

  • Offering mentorships between senior and junior cybersecurity professionals
  • Providing clear opportunities for advancement
  • Encouraging learning opportunities by recommending that employees attend conferences
  • Organizing hack-a-thons to challenge employees, build camaraderie and inspire innovation

Foster New Talent

Even if a company is currently facing a cybersecurity shortage, it may not have to look outside of the organization to tap into new talent. Companies can make it easier for IT professionals to break into cybersecurity by providing in-house training programs, encouraging job-swapping and shadowing opportunities, or covering tuition for courses in cybersecurity.


One of the fastest ways to address a talent shortage is by investing in smart solutions that automate basic security needs. Security software and hardware solutions are undergoing constant advances. By implementing or upgrading technology solutions, a company can bolster its security measures by analyzing and detecting potential threats that an employee might not normally identify. This solution not only provides another layer of protection from threats, but it can boost the satisfaction of current employees by freeing them up to work on cybersecurity issues at a higher level.

While it’s essential for companies to focus on addressing their own cybersecurity talent shortages, organizations should also collaborate and work toward long-term solutions to this widespread problem. By joining together with other companies, foundations, educational institutions and policymakers, companies can have a meaningful impact on the global efforts to solve the cybersecurity talent shortage and significantly reduce the number of security breaches.

Visit TrainingIndustry.com throughout the month of October for insight and tips on how you, as a training professional, can help protect your organization.