Cybersecurity

How to develop the global cybersecurity workforce and build a security-first mindset

Person using laptop, computer monitor and headphones: A cybersecurity workforce must be diverse and plug the skills gap.

A cybersecurity workforce must be diverse and plug the skills gap. Image: Unsplash/Jefferson Santos

CJ Moses
Chief Information Security Officer, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
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This article is part of: Centre for Cybersecurity

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  • As security events rise in number and complexity, the global cybersecurity workforce needs a boost in diversity, training and pathways to cybersecurity careers.
  • Training in soft skills and cloud computing knowledge are the two leading skills gaps in the cybersecurity profession.
  • Free workforce programmes are helping give millions of people access to necessary cloud computing skills for a career in cybersecurity.
  • Advanced digital skills like cloud architecture and software development add an estimated $6.3 trillion annually to global GDP.

Cybersecurity is a complex and fluid issue facing every industry today. Increasing physical and digital security events requires a new approach to investing in the teams and resources needed to address this ever-changing landscape. We need more professionals from diverse backgrounds to fill cybersecurity roles, as well as to increase the availability of security training throughout the global workforce.

Cybersecurity professionals aren’t just needed for the workforce of tomorrow – there are millions of job openings ready to be filled today. For example, there is a global shortage of 3.4 million practitioners to fill open cybersecurity roles. Meanwhile, over 700,000 cybersecurity job openings in the United States are dedicated to keeping companies, their customers and infrastructure safe.

What is making cybersecurity roles challenging to fill? According to research from ISACA, the two leading skills gaps in cybersecurity are training in soft skills and cloud computing knowledge.

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Developing soft skills

Security is as much about soft skills as the specialized technical skills typically associated with the field. According to ISACA’s research, soft skills in communication, flexibility, and leadership represent the most significant skills gap identified by cybersecurity professionals.

To help build the cybersecurity workforce pipeline and fill open roles today, we need to recruit professionals from diverse backgrounds that can bring those soft skills to the fore. According to McKinsey, businesses can find and retain more diverse sets of candidates through strategies such as expanding the number of sources where they identify potential recruits. They should also build more inclusive workplace cultures by educating leaders in collaborative problem-solving and revisiting policies around career advancement to remove traditional barriers.

Cloud computing skills training

The second skills gap identified in ISACA’s research is related to cloud computing. ISACA identified cloud computing as the most important security skill respondents needed in their organizations.

At Amazon Web Services (AWS), we want to empower anyone who desires to learn by giving them access to the tools necessary to excel in cloud computing careers. We are making significant investments to help make it easier for people to gain the skills they need to grow their careers in cloud computing, including cybersecurity. Amazon is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people globally by 2025.

Supporting economies worldwide

In the two years since we announced this commitment, AWS has helped over 13 million people gain access to cloud computing skills through our free workforce programmes – more than doubling the number of people we reached last year. This commitment includes three new training initiatives focused on helping Ukrainians rejoin the workforce, reskilling IT workers for mid-level cloud careers and creating learning opportunities for those with limited tech skills through a new in-person AWS Skills Center in Arlington, Virginia.

Commitment to cloud computing skills development is important for individuals and economies worldwide. According to new research from Gallup and AWS, advanced digital skills like cloud architecture and software development add an estimated $6.3 trillion annually to global GDP.

Diverse perspectives will help encourage innovation in cybersecurity talent development.

CJ Moses, Chief Information Security Officer, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

The findings show that companies with high levels of digital skill utilization report annual revenues of approximately 168% higher than those not using digital skills. Additionally, 98% of individuals who have taken digital skills training in the past year say their career has benefitted through higher pay, increased job satisfaction and a strong sense of job security.

Building a security-first mindset

As well as developing soft skills and training in cloud computing, organizations can protect against security threats by improving cybersecurity training throughout their workforces. Security events often target human behaviour through social engineering and phishing campaigns. By improving cybersecurity training for individuals across industries and job categories, organizations encourage a security-first culture where security is part of everyone’s job – regardless of their role or position level.

At Amazon, we are helping more people recognize the importance of cybersecurity and their agency to protect themselves online. For example, we offer Cybersecurity Awareness Training at no cost to individuals and businesses worldwide. Additionally, Amazon and the National Cybersecurity Alliance recently launched a cybersecurity awareness campaign, Protect & Connect.

The campaign includes engaging videos featuring actor Michael B. Jordan and actress-producer Tessa Thompson as “internet bodyguards.” It also consists of a microsite for consumers, protectconnect.com, which includes other videos addressing topics such as identifying and avoiding phishing attempts.

Building a cybersecurity workforce pipeline

Industry has an important role to play in improving cybersecurity skills among today’s workforce and building more pathways to cybersecurity careers. However, developing the global cybersecurity workforce also requires partnerships with leaders across the public sector, including local and national governments, non-profits and academia. Governments should foster collaboration by creating forums where the public sector and industry can work together. Diverse perspectives will help encourage innovation in cybersecurity talent development.

While the number of security threats continues to increase, we can be better prepared to address them by training today’s workforce in soft skills, cloud computing and security awareness. Stakeholders across the public sector and industry should also work together to create more pathways to cybersecurity careers. Together, we can develop the global cybersecurity workforce, build a stronger security-first mindset and make the world safer.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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