20 April 2018 | by Laura Sehl

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Will Markow of Burning Glass Technologies to Speak at CyberSmart 2018

The skill gap in cybersecurity can be daunting to try to tackle. Having up-to-date data on the labour market can help job seekers, industry, and educators make informed decisions as they navigate the cybersecurity sector. Will Markow, Manager of Client Strategy and Analytics at Burning Glass Technologies, spoke to CyberNB about trends in the cybersecurity labour market.

CyberNB: Burning Glass is reshaping how the job market works, with data that identify the skill gaps that keep job seekers and employers apart and tools that enable both sides to bridge that gap and connect more easily. What types of skill gaps are in the cybersecurity sector?

Markow: The cybersecurity skill gap is one of the most severe and intractable gaps in the market. In the United States, where Burning Glass partnered with NICE and CompTIA to release CyberSeek.org, an interactive portal which tracks the cybersecurity talent shortage across the country, we would need the existing cybersecurity workforce to more than double overnight to meet employer demand. But what makes the cybersecurity skills gap so difficult to close isn’t just the sheer number of workers needed. It’s the specific characteristics of the gap that make it unique.

  1. Cybersecurity already has a huge talent shortage and is still one of the fastest growing in the market. Supply growth probably won’t keep up with the surge in demand in the short run, so we’re likely to see the gap get worse before it gets better.
  2. Second, cybersecurity jobs are hybrid jobs, meaning they require skills from multiple functional domains, both IT-related and otherwise. It is difficult to prepare workers for hybrid jobs because they don’t align well with existing training programs.
  3. Finally, workers must track a continuously evolving set of threats and tools used to combat these threats, which requires nonstop learning to consistently update their skillsets.

CyberNB: How can both job seekers and employers address these skill gaps?

Markow: You can’t address the cybersecurity skill gap unless you determine its root cause, so the first step is understanding the factors behind the skill gap. For educators and job seekers, this means pinpointing the types of cybersecurity jobs, skills, and credentials necessary to enter and advance in the field. For employers, this means understanding where to find the cybersecurity talent you need, recognizing whom you’re competing with for workers, and identifying the jobs, skills, and credentials that will be hardest to find. Once you have this information in hand, educators can build cybersecurity training programs that better align with workforce needs, job seekers can better target the skills and credentials to add to their portfolio, and employers can build job roles and talent acquisition strategies that better align with the available cybersecurity talent pool.

CyberNB: As Manager of Client Strategy and Analytics, what kind of trends are you seeing in the cybersecurity labor force?

Markow: Cybersecurity is no longer the sole responsibility of a small team of information security analysts and engineers; it is the responsibility of everyone across an organization. This is creating hybrid roles that require cybersecurity skills to mix with competencies from disparate functional domains. These types of hybrid roles present a huge workforce challenge because this diverse skill mix doesn’t align with traditional training programs. Therefore, employers and educators must find new ways to develop targeted training programs that address the specific cybersecurity skills workers require across an organization.

CyberNB: How does Burning Glass help to align education with the needs of the job market?

Markow: Burning Glass provides data and software tools that offer granular, up-to-date information about the jobs, skills, and credentials that are important to the cybersecurity workforce. This ensures stakeholders aren’t groping around in the dark when trying to close the skill gap. Burning Glass leverages advanced analytics and proprietary labor market data to provide solutions that enable educators to track local demand for skills and industry credentials, spot new and emerging roles not yet tracked by public data sources, understand their local employer landscape, and map training and career pathways. These solutions help educators build and align programs with employer needs and give students a roadmap to a satisfying career.

CyberNB: What kind of background should someone who wants to get into cybersecurity have? Is a computer science/coding background the only way in?

Markow: There are many potential entry points into cybersecurity. It is true that a computer science and coding background is helpful – it is perhaps the most common entry point into cybersecurity – but the breadth of jobs and skills across cybersecurity offer opportunities for workers from many backgrounds. For example, workers with a background in finance or risk analysis have many of the analytical and risk management skills necessary for entry-level roles in cyber.

The main thing that cybersecurity job seekers can do – whether they are experienced workers or recent graduates – is understand the skills required in cybersecurity, compare those requirements to their current skillsets, and build the remaining skills they don’t already possess. Both educators and employers can support this process by aligning training and advancement tracks to clearly defined career pathways in cybersecurity, such as the one mapped out in CyberSeek.org.

CyberNB: We appreciate your willingness to travel to attend the CyberSmart Summit in New Brunswick! The summit theme this year is international collaboration in cybersecurity workforce development. Why do you believe international collaboration is important in developing the cybersecurity field?

Markow: Cybersecurity threats transcend borders and so should cybersecurity workforce development. Sharing best practices for managing the talent shortage will make all of our digital information safer, and a larger international pool of cybersecurity workers benefits hiring managers everywhere.

CyberNB: What are some of the key messages you hope delegates will take away from what you will share about your work with Burning Glass?

Markow: Hopefully the data and insights from Burning Glass and CyberSeek.org will provide the information necessary for delegates to understand the key drivers of the cybersecurity skills gap – such as hybrid skill requirements, rapid demand growth, and misalignment between training programs and hiring needs – and empower them to design effective cybersecurity training and workforce development solutions.

CyberNB: What do you hope to take away from attending the CyberSmart Summit?

Markow: Many people are taking innovative approaches to developing the cybersecurity workforce and closing the skill gap, so I look forward to learning from others’ approaches and connecting with individuals who are tackling the same issues. Hopefully, this will stimulate new thinking and new approaches among stakeholders working to close the skill gap in cybersecurity.


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