It has become inherently clear that there’s a large gap in cyber security and the talent pool. Part of the problem is the rapid growth of technology. New threats are developed all the time and the technologies to combat those threats are evolving just as quickly. For a professional to maintain a strong, relevant depth of knowledge about cyber security it takes large investments of time and resources. An investment not many are willing to make. The other issue is the public’s perception of cyber security. Some people do not view cyber security as an important issue. Others are turned off from the largely male-dominated field. In order to bridge the gap, we must take aggressive steps toward reshaping the stigmas and misconceptions in pursuing a long-term career path in cyber security.

Here are a few of our recommendations to help companies begin to close the gap. Though, there is not a quick fix for this issue.

Professional development

Providing continued professional development educates the current staff, thus helping them grow and learn. It also encourages lateral movement for team members interested in pursuing new career paths. If they are currently working in networking, but looking to increase expertise in security, give them the opportunity to learn about the technologies. This is not only good for morale, but also the industry as a whole.

Create a diverse, welcoming work environment

Another issue that has played a large role in the talent gap is the work environment. Careers in information technology and cyber security are often considered “boys clubs.” While the efforts to promote women’s involvement in STEM-related career paths have significantly increased, there is a significant gap in Gen X and older millennials. In order to combat this issue, work on creating a welcoming work environment for all employees. One that celebrates diversity and proves commitment to supporting women and minorities in the field. Even if you feel the work environment is friendly and comfortable, take a harder look.

Invest in the next generation.

As previously mentioned, promoting STEM has taken a turn for the better and charter schools are opening up across the country that focuses on educating young girls and minorities in engineering, technology, math, and sciences. Find ways to support local institutions. Not only does this plug you into a potential talent pool of other supporters, but it’s also great PR for your company, which can be leveraged as a recruiting tool. Another example is to start free tutorials and training programs to garner interest and educate. Over time, the individuals who go through these programs and continue their education in the field are more likely to come back where when seeking full-time employment.

Educate the whole team

Not every department within a company will need cyber security backgrounds. However, it should be a goal to educate everyone on the growing need for professionals in the field. The reasoning is twofold. The first is credibility. A cyber security company should have airtight security and the whole team plays a part in keeping sensitive information secure. Secondly, passing along this knowledge increases awareness that can be passed on to family members and the younger generations. These individuals may take a keen interest in cyber security based on their exposure and pursue a career in the field. Additionally, your existing team members can help with recruitment efforts. You never know when an existing employee might refer the perfect security candidate.

The more people the company can inform, educate, and inspire, the easier it is to close the talent gap. By doing all these things, we’re able to create a bigger pool in the workforce and bring people from different backgrounds together to work on the future of the industry. Investing in the future today is the only way to bridge talent gaps in the future.