More than half of organizations have unfilled cybersecurity positions, according to a new workforce development survey.

Fifty-nine percent of IT professionals surveyed in the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)’s “State of Cybersecurity Report 2018” said their organizations have open positions in information security. Approximately the same proportion (54 percent) of practitioners admitted that it takes their employer three months on average to fill security-related roles, and another 3 percent confessed that their firms can’t fill those jobs.

Companies Struggle to Fill Cybersecurity Positions

For the report, the ISACA surveyed 2,366 professionals who work in information security or hold ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and/or Cybersecurity Nexus Practitioner (CSXP) designations. Their responses illustrated the challenges presented by the ongoing cybersecurity skills gap.

The survey found that employees lack confidence in the qualifications of their organization’s workforce. Three in 10 participants said that less than a quarter of employees were qualified. Slightly more (31 percent) reported that 25 to 50 percent of their co-workers possess the necessary skills, while just 12 percent of respondents indicated that 75 to 100 percent of their colleages are sufficiently qualified.

At the organizational level, respondents revealed that 39 percent of most openings were for “individual contributor, technical security.” This supported the belief held by 77 percent of survey participants that hiring demand for that particular role was increasing. Security personnel also reported an increased demand for “individual contributor, nontechnical security” and “security manager,” at 46 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

Investing in Training and Retention

The ISACA survey revealed that dwindling budgets aren’t to blame for the persistent skills gap. In fact, 64 percent of respondents reported an increase in their organization’s security budget.

Matt Loeb, CEO of ISACA, said this finding supports the notion that cybersecurity staffing issues aren’t financial in nature.

“Even though enterprises have more budget than ever to hire, the available workforce lacks the skills organizations critically need,” Loeb explained, as quoted a press release. “More of those dollars will need to be invested in technical cybersecurity training, along with effective retention programs.”

To further minimize the skills gap, the authors of the report advised organizations to invest in security automation tools and make improvements to their hiring processes.

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