Cybersecurity is a business necessity for MSPs, but the talent shortage is a major issue plaguing the industry.

Allison Francis

December 1, 2018

4 Min Read
Talent Shortage

Picture this. You’re going to the beach, and being the prepared, well-seasoned beach person that you are, you make sure to pack towels, a good book, sunglasses and most importantly, sunscreen. Going without it is not just ill-advised, it can be extremely harmful. For managed service providers (MSPs) these days, going without cybersecurity services is like going to the beach without sunscreen. You can have your arsenal of supplies/services and be mostly prepared, but without sunscreen/cybersecurity, you’re toast.

The good news is, folks are starting to catch on. According to a recent report from Kaspersky Lab and Business Advantage, cybersecurity is, for the most part, no longer viewed as an optional function or separate service among MSPs. It’s a must. However, there is one major blip.

The report, titled MSP: Trends, Challenges and the Keys to Success in Managed Security in 2017, found that a majority of MSPs are struggling to find qualified cybersecurity staff. This is bad news for MSPs that want to remain competitive in the market, not only in terms of hanging on to their existing customers, but winning new ones. And with cybersecurity coming in a standard package these days, that’s just not going to fly.

“From our perspective, there is a real lack of available talent who have the necessary cybersecurity skills we are looking for,” says Jason McKenzie, managing director of Australia-based Surety IT. “We have struggled for months to find the right people, using the usual resources. We’ve even approached recruiters who have told us that there just isn’t anyone out there, and a lot of the folks who are out there are demanding salaries that many MSPs cannot afford.”


SuretyIT’s Jason McKenzie

McKenzie goes on to say that Australia is way behind in terms of producing the numbers of skilled cyber security professionals they need.

“Everything is becoming increasingly connected and the threats more and more prevalent,” warns McKenzie. “We’re going to be relying even more heavily on cyber security personnel.”

McKenzie fears that if they can’t find the right talent and those positions remain unfilled, MSPs might start looking more toward offshoring those positions. Unless there is marked increase in available talent, McKenzie says that this very well may be the case.

The talent shortage is indeed dire, and poses one of the greatest threats to MSPs and organizations worldwide. By 2022, a shortage of 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs is projected. Yikes …

According to Digital Information World, more than half (51 percent) of organizations are suffering from a cybersecurity skills shortage — a rather significant, scary jump from just 23 percent in 2014. From then to now, the shortage has grown steadily while the demand has reached fever pitch. It goes without saying that cybersecurity threats are ever-present and the growing talent gap is understandably freaking folks out. Nobody likes feeling vulnerable and unprepared.

In the United States, there are more than 300,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions. It’s not looking so hot in other countries either. Globally, the projected demand will increase exponentially, with 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs needing to be filled by 2021. In Australia, 88 percent of IT decision makers say there is a national shortage of cybersecurity skills in their organizations. In Europe, there is a projected skill-gap shortage of 350,000 workers by the year 2022, and India, which has some of the highest cybersecurity demands, has a projected need of 1 million employees by 2020.

OK, enough scary stats. What to do? How do we close this gap and quell the desperate cry for cybersecurity talent?

“Internally we are trying to overcome this issue by investing in the right people,” says McKenzie. “We’re also partnering with cybersecurity specialist businesses and investing in technology that utilizes AI and the latest technology.”

Another place to hit is education. Leading universities have already started catching on and have begun to pick up the ball with regard to the need for more cybersecurity programs. Folks are also turning toward solutions from support companies as opposed to building out an in-house team. MSPs offer a bridge over the divide — a cost-effective, tailored alternative to hiring cybersecurity professionals.

The need for cybersecurity talent isn’t going to go away, and the widening gap is a very real threat that needs to be dealt with. But all is not lost. MSPs have a very large role to play here.

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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