Jonathan Penn

We are regularly hearing from our security clients about their difficulties finding people with the right skills – or when they do finally find them, these people are too costly to employ because their skills are in such demand.

Indeed, the “unavailability of people with the right skills” was cited as a top challenge for security groups in both our enterprise and SMB surveys.

In comparing need for talent across 25 different IT roles, Forrester analysts came to the conclusion that information security experts are among the hottest roles in IT, sharing the top spot with information/data architects.

The skills shortage is likely to get worse before it gets better. We’re unlikely to see a significant spike in security experts’ salaries to attract those we need to hire: large changes in compensation for senior security personnel would run against the current of economic belt-tightening. Another typical approach to offsetting the shortage would be to train up: foster the career development and advancement of existing security personnel on our payroll. However, with all the outsourcing that is going on – and which will increasingly occur – there is a shrinking pool from which to find people with “the right stuff” worth championing their advancement.

We could look outside of security to others in IT, or even to co-workers in other departments or business groups. But given how poor a job IT Security does of marketing its value proposition, I don’t hold much hope for attracting non-security people.

What do you think? Are we about to hit a very big wall when it comes to skills and staffing? Are you presently feeling the pain of a skills shortage? Do you see such a shortage looming? What measures are you taking to acquire and nurture talent? Which ones are successful and why?

I welcome your thoughts on the topic.