Expert view | How professional development can ease the digital talent shortage

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How professional development can ease the digital talent shortage

With the plight of the IT worker in the spotlight after Twitter and Meta’s meltdowns, and new reports showing 70% of cybersecurity professionals are feeling overworked, it might be time to enact some serious changes to the world of digital work. Our expert, Jamal Elmellas, COO of Focus-on-Security shares his insight...

Trying to fill skilled job roles is getting harder, particularly in cybersecurity where competition has got so fierce that 60 percent of organisations have had talent poached by rival firms. The problem is caused by a widening skills gap with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport estimating that 14,000 new entrants are needed every year. But that gap has become more of a chasm, with the ISC2’s (the professional organisation for cybersecurity pros) 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study finding it had increased by 73 percent, equivalent to 56,811 unfilled vacancies, over the past year.

HR teams have taken a variety of approaches in an attempt to mitigate these shortages and boost retention, from providing more flexible working conditions to retraining internal staff and targeted recruit drives. But are they focusing their efforts on the right things?

Those that have left their jobs said they were predominantly motivated by higher pay (31 percent) or growth opportunities (30 percent) – no surprise there – but others felt driven out by a negative business culture (25 percent) or burnout (21 percent). That suggests that corporate culture, reward and recognition have just an important part to play when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

As a nascent profession that has grown organically in response to technological advances, it has so far defied career planning.

The secret to happiness at work?

The same survey deduced that happiness matters and attempted to measure this using what it calls an Employee Experience (EX) rating system. Its chief findings were that efforts to improve happiness by HR were focused mainly on work flexibility when in fact a far higher impact resulted when staff felt listened to and valued – yet only 28 percent had programs in place to facilitate this.

Being able to work remotely does of course continue to factor highly, with more than half saying they might walk if they were no longer allowed to work from home. The difference now is that this is very much viewed as a commodity offering with 84 percent now able to adopt a hybrid work pattern. It is no longer a differentiator but HR teams have been slow to realise this and look at how else they can sweeten the offering.

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