Overcoming the IT Skills Gap and Maintaining a Secure Business

This week’s blog features an article from industry leaders at Security Magazine about overcoming the challenges of our current IT skills gap and how you can maintain a secure business.

Technology continues evolving and advancing at a rapid speed, ringing in unparalleled opportunities, but also creating new vulnerabilities. With this comes the demand for a workforce equipped with up-to-date skills to counter emerging threats. However, the pace of skill acquisition often lags the evolving threat landscape – opening organizations to increased risks.

According to a Statista report looking at global talent shortages, 54% of organizations experienced a skills shortage in tech in 2023. Yet this skills gap does not have to be a death knell for an organization’s cybersecurity strategy. By upskilling their workforce, cultivating a culture of security, and exploring options for outsourcing technology, business leaders can implement viable solutions to ensure proper IT representation and secure systems despite the current skills gap.

Upskilling the workforce and boosting employee retention

An organization’s current employees are one of their most powerful assets in mitigating the IT skills gap – and investing time and resources in those employees can make a world of difference. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2024, 70% of employees say learning improves their sense of connection to their organization, and 80% say it adds a sense of purpose to their work. Fortunately, leaning into an employee’s desire to learn benefits the greater organization both in uncovering ways to help employees upskill and retaining talent long-term. Providing educational resources and regular training are two examples of effective ways to invest in current employees.  Employers should consider hosting quarterly workshops with an external IT expert and providing online courses in a variety of IT sectors to enhance employees’ skillsets. They should also encourage employees to participate in LinkedIn trainings by identifying the most relevant ones ahead of time and sharing information on them, as well as promoting (and covering the costs of) certification programs to help employees advance their career.

Empowering employees to stay updated on the latest skills and trends in the IT industry is just as important as providing educational resources. Knowledge of the current landscape can help inform better decision making and sharing of ideas among employees. Because significant thought goes into educational resources and training, and determining the deployment of such resources may take some time, the most current trends and skills may not always be conveyed at the same pace as they are emerging. To encourage employees to remain up to speed, organizations should encourage employees to stay on top of business, cybersecurity, compliance, and IT news, or consider circulating a weekly newsletter or digest dedicated to the latest threats, trends, and news stories within the industry.

A company’s culture and recognition from management is just as important to an employee’s satisfaction, retention, and work ethic as providing upskilling opportunities is. In fact, a study from Quantum Workplace showed that 69% of employees would increase their work effort if they were acknowledged more.  Creating a positive work environment, offering career growth opportunities, and acknowledging contributions through incentives and recognition can help boost both employee work effort and retention, therefore preventing a broadening of the skills gap.

Computers Nationwide - Secure business

Cultivating a culture of security

Where IT departments may be overwhelmed with responsibilities and a lack of manpower, fostering cross-departmental collaboration to encourage a company-wide emphasis on security can have a large impact and alleviate some of this burden. Organizations should implement security education across several different business mediums, making it a constant reminder and educational concept across all departments.

There are several opportunities where business leaders can cultivate this company-wide engagement around security best-practices, such as webinars and events, office hours, including security and IT best practices into corporate newsletters, regular phishing tests, and more. According to the IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, 16% of breaches started from phishing, and the average cost of data breaches with insider initial attacks cost $4.9M. With widespread knowledge of what phishing scams look like, businesses can mitigate risk and limit the potential for a breach before it inflicts monetary damage on the organization.

It’s also important to encourage security accountability throughout an organization. Business leaders should reward employees who demonstrate great security practices and provide additional guidance and training for those who don’t. For example, businesses could implement mandatory training for those who click on phishing scams sent out for training purposes. As an incentive for improving security posture and awareness, leaders could consider offering an entry into a prize pool for completing security training modules for a chance to win a universally valuable prize, such as a gift certificate.

Explore external resources

Utilizing external resources is another way for businesses to enhance their IT skillset and close the looming gap. Outsourcing technology and security provides a support system for the existing internal team and assures that all IT and security needs are taken care of.  Outsourcing also provides a potential for cost savings, rather than hiring several additional full-time employees, therefore providing the ability to focus more resources on core business activities. In recent years, several companies have started to outsource. In fact, a Radix report revealed that 66% of U.S. businesses outsource at least one department and more than 75% of executives said they would outsource IT services in 2024, specifically showing interest in IT infrastructure services, app and software development, and cybersecurity.

For some businesses, outsourcing a full IT team is not financially feasible. In this case, there is the opportunity to consider a CISO, a security expert who utilizes years of industry experience to help organizations strengthen their security posture. This option allows for flexibility, with organizations able to tap the expertise and assistance of a security expert as needed without a full-time commitment.

Despite the skills gap, businesses are obliged to continue IT and security best practices, or otherwise face dire consequences. Whether it be putting more investment into current employees, considering external options, or a combination of both, all organizations should work towards building strong technology support. The important next step is evaluating and finding the most viable solution to do so.

Read the original article here.

As the premier Managed Service Provider (MSP) of the Midwest, it’s our duty to keep businesses like yours protected around the clock with cutting-edge cybersecurity tools. It’s essential to protect your valuable data, safeguard your reputation, and invest in business continuity. We partner with trusted cybersecurity service providers like VeeamVMwareDatto and Arcserve to offer our customers the most innovative solutions to defend against attacks.

Curious how your workplace will benefit from a Cyber Security Audit or Managed Cyber Security services?

Connect with Computers Nationwide: (847) 419-9900

Read our recent blogs to learn more:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recent Posts