The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s theme for this week in October is “Building the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals.” Here are some of the key articles — and their takeaways — that you might have missed on the topic of addressing the skills gap in the cybersecurity field.

1. Security Teams Need to Step Up

Hitting the Cyber Skills Shortage Head On” answered some questions facing organizations that are concerned about the skills gap. These notably included:

  • Why does the cyber skills shortage need immediate attention?
  • How many unfilled security jobs are estimated to exist today?
  • How did IBM and the University of Warwick collaborate to boost the cyber skills of students?
  • How did this collaboration help enrich the students’ learning?
  • What comes next?

2. Let People Learn on the Job

Career Growth: The Need to Learn” tackled the soul-searching issue of what it means to be an information security professional. While most professions require continuous learning, author Martin McKeay shared his insights about our profession — a profession that is very demanding but also quite rewarding.

As he wrote, “we’re not doctors,” yet the rate at which knowledge can become obsolete is similar to that in the medical professions. He described how best to use your “underlying sense of paranoia” and why you’ll never be bored if you stay in this field. McKeay also challenged us to get out and network both for ourselves and for others.

3. Professionals Benefit From Educational Partnerships

How Helping Educators Is Good for the Cybersecurity Industry” challenged security professionals to touch the lives of future recruits and future peers. How can current information professionals assist the growth of future security talent and keep the curriculum fresh? How can the security industry help retain talented faculty in academia and also assist faculty in staying up to date with changes in the security world?

As I said in the article, “We’re all in this together — the sooner we realize it, the better for all of us.”

4. Focus on Professional Development Opportunities

Why the Lack of Professional Development Among IT and Security Pros?” examined the impact of the lack of support from management when it comes to the professional growth of their IT and security talent. It may be a lack of dedicated — and fully expended — annual training budget, or it could perhaps be the misplaced assumption that certifications and readings are enough to keep staff fully informed and up to date in a rapidly changing technological world. Author Kevin Beaver challenged professionals to get “out of the office” and attend a class, seminar or conference presentation to keep their knowledge sharp.

5. Let Academia Play a Part

Addressing the Information Security Skills Gap in Partnership With Academia” argued for the need to work collaboratively with academia, to think outside the box and to cut through the red tape to solve our current and future skills gap. Faced with an ongoing skills gap in information security, how has the industry reacted? Is that sustainable? Learn about one possible solution: A unique program in which IBM teamed up with the City University of New York to create a new degree path covering grades 9–14.

I briefly touch on retention versus cross-training, avoiding job hoppers and encouraging all to focus their resources through appropriate academic — or better yet, through cybersecurity consortia, which are more adept at making things happen “this week or this month, not a year from now.”

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