Weekly Word on the Street: Cybersecurity Skills Still in Demand

by Jim Staats | Jun 22, 2012

Takeaway of the week is the suggestion to view the current IT job market in the "glass is half-full" mode. Reports on the overall IT job market might not be glowing, but it's certainly doing a lot better than other industries in today's economy. IT prospects continue to grow at a steady pace. Let's just hope that forecasts of IT skills gaps are a thing of the past in the near future.

Wanted: Cybersecurity Skills

Amid a growing spate of cybersecurity attacks to both government and corporate networks, it's more apparent than ever that there just aren't enough folks with the skills necessary to combat these actions.

That's the opinion of a number of experts in this in-demand sector of the IT industry, a recent Reuters article noted.

"We don't have enough security professionals and that's a big issue," said Enrique Salem, chief executive at Symantec Corp, at last week's Reuters Media and Technology Summit in New York.

One of the theories spouted for the lack of qualified professionals to tackle the issue is the field's inherent reputation for being a "thankless" role.

"If you really look at security, it's like trying to prove a negative," said hacking expert Jeff Moss, a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council. "If you do security well, nobody comes and says 'good job.' You only get called when things go wrong." He estimated labor shortages in the cyber field will continue to grow for the near future with nary a light at the end of the tunnel.

One such hope is the National Security Agency's recently announced plans to build up a cyber-ops program at various U.S. universities in an effort to develop greater expertise in that select field.

IT Job Market Up, IT Hiring Down

It's a case of some good and not-so-good news for the IT job market these days, a new survey indicates.

While the overall job market for IT professionals is growing at a better rate than most other industries still struggling in today's economy, those tough times continue to keep firms skittish and hiring numbers moving at a snail's pace.

Based on findings from the recent hiring survey done by the tech job site Dice, IT employment should see some growth, but at a modest level, a new eWeek article states.

The survey found that nearly three-quarters of recruiters and hiring managers in the IT market expect companies to build out tech staff in the last half of 2012. That figure is an increase from 65 percent six months ago, according to Dice.

However, less than 20 percent of those recruiters and hiring managers high on the IT market expected "substantially" more hiring in the latter half of this year.

That tale of caution was also reflected in a separate poll of senior executives at technology firms by audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG in its annual "Technology Industry Business Outlook" report.

"Technology executives again have pushed out their expectation for the U.S. economic recovery, as two-thirds don't see the economy recovering substantially until the end of 2014 or later," according to KPMG study findings.

CIOs Must Bridge IT Talent Gap

A lot of folks in high places are panicky about the quality of young Americans exiting the U.S. educational pipeline.

Is it time for CIOs to the rescue?

That's the task placed before the executives in a recent article in CIO.com.

The item references a report in McKinsey Quarterly which stated that if American students continue performing poorly on international math and science assessment tests, the U.S. risks sliding into a "permanent national recession."

In addition, the Council on Foreign Relations warned such a dip in education in these sectors could threaten the country's national security, given the increased dependence on preventing cyber attacks.

Many young folks and their parents mistakenly believe that developing strong math and science skills is not important to the future, the article notes. The theory being, it states, that tech jobs are all shifting to Asia.

That's far from the case, given recent reports out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasting double-digit growth in tech through the rest of this decade.

Amid all this, the CIO Executive Council, a peer advisory group which was founded by the publisher of CIO.com, oversees an initiative called Youth in IT, which aids CIOs in encouraging children from elementary through grade school levels to consider future careers in technology.

The hope is such an initiative will spread to other similar endeavors to help change the country's perception of IT roles at a young age.

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