Cyber security industry stricken by skill gap as unfilled jobs persist

The digital industry has seen a significant increase in job postings in the first months of 2023, reaching over 40,000, according to a report by staffing firm TeamLease Digital. However, despite the high demand and rising salaries, almost 30% of those positions have remained vacant. This shortage of skilled professionals, along with high attrition rates and stress levels, is having a negative impact on the industry.

Another report by TeamLease Digital predicts that the IT services sector, which is India’s largest tech recruiter, will reduce annual hiring figures by up to 40%. However, companies in the IT services sector and other industries continue to hire cyber security professionals, as reflected in the growing number of cyber security jobs available. Sunil Chemmankotil, CEO of TeamLease Digital, stated that last year there were around 45,000 open opportunities in the cyber security industry, with a 37% gap in the supply of skilled professionals.

Despite the overall decrease in hiring, IT services companies, like LTIMindtree, are still recruiting cyber security talent due to the persistent demand from clients. However, most of the hiring has been for entry-level and mid-junior positions, leaving mid-career and higher-level roles vacant. Positions such as IT auditors, information security analysts, network engineers, cloud architects, penetration testers, forensics analysts, chief information security officers (CISOs), and cyber security directors are among the roles that remain unfilled.

Despite the talent shortage, salaries for top cyber security professionals have significantly increased. For example, the salary of a CISO with over 12 years of experience has risen by over 30% in the past year to nearly ₹80 lakh per annum. Mid-career network engineer roles have seen an average salary increase of over 25% in the past 12 months, with an average payout of ₹23 lakh per annum. IT auditor jobs have also experienced a rise in average salaries to ₹25 lakh for employees with 5-8 years of experience.

The talent shortage is attributed to the slow rate of upskilling and reskilling in comparison to the rapid evolution of cyber attacks. Many companies have had to hire regular candidates for cybersecurity roles, even if they lack specific cybersecurity qualifications. Prateek Bhajanka, CISO and director at SentinelOne, mentioned the need for a greater adoption of open-source standards and the development of indigenous security solutions to address the skills gap.

Additionally, high attrition levels contribute to the supply gap in the cyber security industry. The immense pressures and challenges of the job, along with the irregularity and rising intensity of cyber security threats, have deterred many professionals from staying in the field.

Despite the challenges, the domestic cyber security sector is projected to grow at a rate of 8% annually. It is estimated to be worth $3.5 billion by 2027, according to TeamLease data.

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