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Digital bridges built with virtual nails

It’s time to invest in skills development solutions that will permanently cover the skills shortage in SA, says Henk Olivier, MD at Ozone Information Technology Distribution.

When it comes to IT and network security, there’s a significant shortage of high-level skills. According to the (ISC)2 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, there is a global cyber security workforce gap of 3.4 million people, and this gap increased by 26.2% in 2022. That’s a gulp stat right there. The urgency of this shortage is underscored by the World Economic Forum, which asked: "Can closing the cyber security skills gap change the world?" and answered with a very clear "yes". Yes, it can, because cyber attacks are a threat to individuals, businesses, countries and economies and having the right people on hand to defend against, and mitigate, those attacks is critical. Technology is changing at such a radical rate that IT security is becoming increasingly specialised and sophisticated. 

Companies need to move beyond just thinking that they can implement a firewall or throw some network security software at the problem. They need security with 100% visibility into the network and their infrastructure; they need early warning detection systems and constant reporting; and they need people who can take all these tools and make them work for the business.

Companies need to encourage talent from within by upskilling people and giving them the space they need to thrive within the organisation. They also need to pay attention to artificial intelligence (AI) and how these tools can support training, development and overall business security.

With AI software solutions, companies may need fewer people to do the same quantities of work and achieve the same outcomes, but they will still need talented people to manage and refine the AI. People need opportunities to grow their training and skills and to learn the fundamentals of their craft. There are many courses available to teach the basics and brands also provide high-intensity product and solution training that delivers granular insights and skills development. Find whatever route works for the business because it will measurably improve skills development and employee engagement. It will also build an internal skills pool that’s invaluable when it comes to thriving in the future.

There will always be a need for IT security specialists, for people who understand the environment and can see the threats looming on the horizon. As it still isn’t a subject at school – and it should be – and there isn’t enough awareness of the risks, it is important that training be embedded into every facet of the business. From those that will drive the AI-security engines through to the everyday employees who could potentially be the weakest link in the security chain, every individual needs to understand security and how it can impact the organisation.

The biggest challenge for companies is keeping up with salary and market demand so they can retain the people they invest into. To juggle this risk with the security opportunity, companies should consider training people on very specific tools within a specific market or industry and not just general security. This can then be bolstered by creating a company culture that’s so driven by personal and career growth that people don’t want to leave – they have what they need right where they are today.  

* Article first published on

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