Friday, February 6, 2009

Two-thirds of UK's top IT security jobs unfilled

GAP : Two-thirds of UK's top IT security jobs unfilled

It's all about the skills

by Nick Heath

3 February 2009


An IT skills shortage has been blamed for two-thirds of the top computer security jobs available in the UK remaining unfilled.

Of the 14 chief security officer positions that have become vacant in the UK over the past four months, only about one-third had been taken up, according to chairman of the Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP) Paul Dorey.

The IISP - the IT security industry members' association - runs a scheme checking skills among security professionals in the private sector and from April will also take over responsibility for accrediting expertise among security specialists and contractors working in Whitehall.

Dorey said the difficulty in filling the 14 posts in both the public and private sector is due to the size of the talent pool.

"The reason it is taking so long to fill those 14 jobs is that the employers are all fishing for the same people," Dorey told silicon.com.

"The genuine issue is that there is a shortage of appropriate security professionals and we need more processes to provide proper accreditation in the field to give them the training and monitoring they need.

"It is about skilling people up more and more, so they are able to do the higher end jobs, and increasing the size of the talent pool."

This year the IISP expects that the number of computer security specialists to achieve its highest level of security accreditation will reach 500.

Sharon Wiltshire is chairman of the Infosec Training Paths & Competencies (ITPC) scheme at the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, a unit within the Cabinet Office.

The ITPC is the government's in-house training scheme for information security professionals working for Whitehall, the accreditation portion of which will transfer to IISP in April.

Wiltshire told silicon.com that as more people passed through the accreditation scheme, it would help better meet the UK's demand for skilled computer security staff.

"Having a qualification that goes beyond the basic level is going to be a help [for organisations] and will also help promote a better career path for individuals," she said.

Under the IISP, Whitehall security staff will be able to pit their skills against a more rigorous testing regime than before, including an interview with their peers to test their IT security expertise.

Wiltshire said the accreditation process will remain voluntary for most Whitehall security staff but added that some departments already demand ITPC accreditation, including some parts of the Ministry of Defence and The National Technical Authority for Information Assurance.

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