As organisations in Africa are facing unprecedented cyber threats such as fraud, phishing, breaches and hacking, an ESG report ‘The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals 2020′ has noted that cybersecurity skills shortage is worsening on the continent.
The report believes that every front is vulnerable, every corner at risk and the skills required to support organisations in the battle are rare, expensive and hard to find.
According to Anna Collard, SVP of Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, this is not the time to behave like an ostrich or spend more money on that skilled and expensive individual, it is an opportunity to engage in local skills development that can make a long-term difference to both economy and skills availability.
“Organisations across Africa must care about skills development to overcome the skills shortage predicament. This is the time to invest in initiatives like GovX or Cyber Heroines that actively encourage people to become part of the cybersecurity industry, and that help to develop their skills. This is one career that is set to grow and evolve over the next few years, and we need to inspire people to recognise it as such,” Anna said.
Anna argued that amidst the challenge of limited skills, there is a pressing need to empower women within the cybersecurity space, explaining that with far more males than females currently in the industry, security is a sector that would benefit from not just volume, but diversity.
According to her, creating a space that is attractive to women would not only benefit the sector in terms of adding fresh flavour to security thinking and approaches but could significantly change some of the urgent issues that have arisen around women’s rights during the pandemic.
“There is a growing body of research that points to how women have been set back by decades thanks to the global pandemic,” says Collard. “This makes the connection between empowering women and connecting them to an industry that sorely needs their talent even more relevant. This is the time for organizations and industries to tackle inequality alongside skills diversity and to potentially resolve two problems at the same time. It is never going to be a quick fix, but it is an intelligent one,” she added.
Women are often the sole breadwinners in their families and they often work in roles that will be replaced in the future – or have already been replaced. The average ratio of women in the cybersecurity industry is 20%, in Africa, it is only 9% and in executive management, women only take up 1% of the roles according to Nir Kshetri, professor of management at the University of North Carolina.
Women are facing a real danger of being left behind and considering that the current cybersecurity skills shortage is sitting at 3.12 million and that job vacancies are gathering dust and cobwebs, it is a superb opportunity for organisations to invest in new ways of attracting women to join the industry.