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Skills shortage of cybersecurity professionals a major concern

A number of courses have come on stream to address the growing demand for relevant skills in the area

Courses include a part-time MSc in Applied Cybersecurity. Photograph: iStock

Courses include a part-time MSc in Applied Cybersecurity. Photograph: iStock


Ireland’s digital economy is under threat from a growing shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel to protect against and respond to security breaches. With a staggering 40 per cent increase in cybersecurity vacancies in the past two years, clearly cybersecurity offers significant job prospects in a field undergoing exponential growth. What qualifications and courses are available for those looking to start or further their careers in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is now a strategic business issue, notes Erik O’Donovan, head of digital economy policy at Ibec. He says about 6,500 people are already employed in the sector in Ireland, and it is rapidly growing.

“Ireland is home to significant digitally intensive sectors. As this intensity grows, so does the need to manage potential risks to our digitised economy. Addressing the growing demand for relevant skills will be important in developing our national cybersecurity capacities,” he says.

The Cybersecurity Skills Initiative (CSI), involving Ibec’s sectoral group Technology Ireland, was established last year. This plans to train 5,000 people in cybersecurity skills and help 4,000 companies to tackle the cybersecurity skills shortage over the next three years, explains O’Donovan.

“When you are trying to build our cybersecurity ecosystem and the pipeline of talent who are going to deliver our cybersecurity solutions, you’ve got to look at attracting and retaining new people into the area and you’ve got to build awareness among businesses and those IT professionals who are looking to upskill or reskill,” he says.

Educational options

According to O’Donovan, there are a variety of ways in which a career goal in cybersecurity can be achieved, including full- and part-time educational options, along with “on-the-job” training via apprenticeship programmes. Programmes are offered through the Further Education and Training system as well as in universities and institutes of technology. These also tend to be heavily subsidised by Government as a direct response to the skills shortage in this area.

Those seeking further information on the CSI and its education and training programmes should visit the Skillnet Ireland website, he says. These courses include a part-time MSc in Applied Cybersecurity, which is delivered wholly online via streamed lectures from TU Dublin’s Blanchardstown campus, and aims to give a grounding in a range of crucial security skill sets.

What if you’re interested in cybersecurity but not sure whether to deviate from your chosen career path? O’Donovan explains there is a cybersecurity aptitude test called the Commercial Cyber Aptitude Test available online. “This gives someone the opportunity to test their skills and see if they have the potential to succeed in this area.”