By Anthony Daly – Security Analyst at PGI
Due to my previous service in the Royal Navy, a colleague of mine asked if I would like to attend the Tech for Troops event that was held at Sheffield Hallam University on behalf of PGI Cyber.
This event was organised by Sheffield Hallam University and its focus was to assist people who were still serving, but looking to get some direction and guidance on how to hone their skillset for a future career in Cyber Security. It was also developed to assist service leavers in developing a firm foundation in the core competencies which would assist in their desire to succeed in this particular career set.
A combination of it being Mother’s Day and adverse weather resulted in less people attending than was anticipated, but there was a good selection of people both serving and retired. There were also various organisations who had given their time for a very worthy cause and in a couple of instances had donated some extremely generous prizes for those who had successfully managed the main challenge of the day - the hacking of a Wi-Fi enabled kettle. In addition, there were some people from the various resettlement organisations who were extremely keen to ascertain how they can assist service leavers in a successful transition to the civilian sector.
Following an introduction to the day’s planned events by Sheffield Hallam University’s Eliza Austin, there were talks from various vendors which covered the industry skills gap, the transferable skills that a serviceperson can bring to Cyber Security, live hacking demonstrations, a recruiter’s perspective of the state of the current talent market and a couple of ex-serviceperson’s own experiences of the transition from service life to working in Cyber Security.
As those of you who work in Cyber Security already know, there is a critical shortage of skilled personnel. In a KPMG survey published in November 2015, it was reported that 57% of respondents were finding it increasingly difficult to hire specialist cyber-staff. In addition, there have been other reports that suggest it may take up to 20 years to solve the current science and technology skills gap.
And this got me thinking…
There are a multitude of reasons why this shortage has come about and whilst a lot of blame can be pointed at students taking the path of least resistance when it comes to choosing non-STEM subjects for their chosen degree, I believe that we, as an industry, are potentially missing a trick in not focusing on doing more to hone service leavers into potentially valuable cyber security professionals.
In terms of my own perspective of how to adapt to life outside of the Naval Service, I hope that any service person wishing to leave take the following points on-board if they wish to make a successful leap into the civvy world. If you prepare well, it’s not as scary as it’s made out to be!