UK firms turning to cyber-security contractors

New research reveals that UK firms are turning to contractors to plug the widening skills gap in the cyber-security field.

UK firms turning to cyber-security contractors
UK firms turning to cyber-security contractors

In a recent survey, UK technology job site Technojobs revealed that there has been increased demand for cyber-security contracts and qualified contractors, a further illustration of a skills gap which, according to ISC2 estimates, will see a shortage of two million professionals by 2018.

The data – which appears to have been scraped from listings on IT jobsites – details that cyber-security contracts rose more than 100 percent year-on-year in December, with contractor salaries also increasing by 16 percent to a daily rate of £500.

There was also good news for full-time security professionals where salaries were up by 10 percent on average to £55,000 a year, or £65,000 if based in London. SCMagazineUK.com found that other information security professionals were less fortunate however with infosec managers and SIEM specialists seeing salaries fall lower than they were in 2013.

Anthony Sherick, managing director of Technojobs, said that the results are a further example of the challenge facing the information security industry.

“From the data it is clear that the cyber-security sector is suffering from a problem of supply and demand,” said Sherick in a statement. “This demand will continue to grow especially as hacking scandals and cyber-attacks continue to hit the news. In addition government demand for security specialists is massive and at its highest levels as it continues to monitor national UK and international threats.

“It is now more important than ever to invest in the right training and skills – and this requires schools, universities and businesses to develop a pipeline of talent capable of filling these vacant cyber security roles.”

He continued: “The massive rise in the UK's tech industry has been illustrated by the number of jobs that are now empty. If there continues to be such a distinct lack of skills, businesses will find it increasingly difficult to find contractors from the UK with appropriate skills, stunting the growth of the economy.  More importantly with cyber-security, leaving our citizens and national security massively exposed.”

Sophos recently said in an email to SCMagazineUK.com that the skills gap could last through to 2030: “As technology becomes more integrated in our daily lives and a supporting pillar of the global economy, the cyber-security skills shortage is becoming more critical and broadly recognised by governments and industry,” the firm wrote. “This gap is growing larger with some governments forecasting a widening gap through to the year 2030 given the present scarcity of qualified IT security professionals.”

PA Consulting security analyst Ed Savage added in an email to SC that demand is growing because of new and emerging technologies, and said that there is a particular shortage in people well-equipped to protect industrial systems.

“Overall the market is growing because of increased connectivity of systems, and particularly recently, of operational technologies, not just back-office IT systems,” he said.

“Our recent survey with Harvey Nash showed that lack of in-house skills is the key reason overall for hiring contractors and consultants, with security architects and senior leaders most in demand.  There is a particularly acute shortage of people who know how to properly secure industrial systems and contractors with such skills are highly prized.”