HR models that deem suitability of applicants need to be more flexible to ensure that the best people are not excluded.

Speaking at the SC Magazine Total Security Conference, Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge said that there is a danger of a ‘lost generation' particularly among those who do not have qualifications but proven skills.

She said: “What we can do is provide ways to translate skills to industry, as a lot of people do not have qualifications, so we can push through courses, or look at apprenticeships or internships to help meet the talented people.

“When you have got an individual with proven skill, who does not have three A-levels, then you have got a real problem. HR has one view of shape of person and people of that shape may not be best person to do cyber security. We need to look at HR, as some applicants are good and others need to look at how to get people with talent in even if they do not fit the profile. Engaging with HR may be simplest way to overcome this.”

Daman highlighted statistics from e-skills which showed that 90 per cent of companies had difficulty recruiting in this space space, while IET statistics from April 2013 found that only 14 per cent of small to medium enterprises had sufficient talent to meet the gap. “Our sponsors say they cannot find people – they will read 300 CVs and only four will be relevant, so there firmly is a cyber security skills shortage,” she said.

“To me it is pretty fundamental; everything is online and everything is linking to the internet and entire prosperity, and if we don't have right people, we are risking all of that.”

Daman said that the root of the problem is on two areas: the first is the ‘lost generation' who were not taught proper skills in schools; while the second is whether schools are teaching correctly?

“If we were more focused on schools we could have acted and this has been raised and the government is replying, so there is hope for the future and these kids will not be a lost generation and will see something worth pursuing,” she said.