DeVry University CEO Roundtable Recap

The Cyber Talent Shortage

By Tom Monahan

March 6, 2023
7 min read

As the world becomes increasingly enmeshed in technology, there are ever-growing threats to the security and stability of the technology and data that power every industry and much of our daily lives.  And, to put it bluntly, as a society we are not keeping pace with the demand for talent to protect us.  With a reported 600,000 roles in cybersecurity waiting to be filled1, it’s urgent that organizations solve this issue--together.  More broadly, steps to solve the cyber talent shortage might also point to opportunities and innovations that allow us to close other vital talent gaps.   

On December 8, 2022, I sat down with several leaders from various industries for DeVry’s inaugural CEO Roundtable. For this session, we tackled the cyber talent shortage head-on. Several themes stood out as these leaders discussed ways to solve this urgent challenge to corporate performance – and national security.

Typical Channels for Sourcing Talent are “Bone Dry”

There are simply not enough candidates to fill the open cyber roles. The university system, boot camps, and every part of the training enterprise produces about 200,000 IT credentials and certificates a year, of which cyber makes up only about 40,0002. So, on a steady state basis, this is a problem we won't solve for in a decade, even if there isn't a single person who leaves the field. As WTIA CEO Michael Schutzler explains, “those wells are bone dry. To solve the talent gap, all sectors of this economy industry must partner with training and education institutions to reskill professionals into the field.”

Gap Closing Begins at Home

One of the richest sources of supply for any scarce job is facilitating internal talent mobility by helping existing employees advance their careers through new skills.  Many workers may both be interested in pursuing cyber training and have the key aptitudes to succeed, but may not have the financial means to do so. To help address this issue, companies can offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs to help workers reskill or upskill into a cyber role. This can help make it more feasible for workers to pursue careers in the field and help bridge the talent gap.

Reach Beyond Your Traditional Sources of Supply

To ensure that the education and training programs being offered are aligned with the needs of the industry, companies can partner with universities and other educational institutions to develop programs and courses specifically tailored to the needs of their organization. This can help ensure that workers are receiving the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their careers.

“Several years ago, we started looking at all of the sources of hires that we had for the company and really found that we had some missed opportunities,” said Christine Gragnani-Woods, SVP and Human Resource Executive at Bank of America. In response to this, the company decided to tap into their local communities. “And that was partners of all different… sizes and shapes. That could be community partners, that could be non-profits, that could be community colleges… four-year universities and colleges.”

Participants also pointed out that anachronistic tools for screening talent (such as prioritizing bachelor’s degree completion to the exclusion of adults on a degree path or those with non-degree credentials) unnecessarily exclude needed talent. 

Integrate Across the Talent Supply Chain

Revature CEO, Ashwin Barath, highlighted the importance of tapping into the talent ecosystem. “Where the industry is moving is… having a very comprehensive, self-sustaining talent ecosystem. The word ‘comprehensive’ is very important,” said Barath. “The reason is everybody should be included as part of the ecosystem.” And if you include everyone, having a narrow set of schools you recruit from or rigid educational requirements that don’t consider experience or aptitude can leave you behind your competition.

Panelists agreed that doing this effectively required thinking about development differently.  Tighter integration between corporate and talent suppliers such as universities could result in internship or apprenticeship programs that could provide participants with a more focused level of training in cyber, while being able to learn formally and on-the-job.

Augment Traditional Learning with Corporate Support and Mentorship

In activating non-traditional pools of talent, it is vital to recognize that skills training and education is only one element of success.  That said, corporate partners have a variety of resources at their disposal to help new talent thrive.  Offering mentorship and professional development opportunities, providing access to the latest tools and technologies, and creating a supportive and inclusive work environment are all ways that can help workers advance in their careers.

Be a Voice of Change

Leaders can work with policymakers and advocacy groups to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity, the need for a skilled workforce in the field, and the workforce gaps we currently face. This could include: 

  • Promoting STEM education and IT careers early, so children in K – 12 are exposed to this career path while learning about others. 

  • Completing public outreach about the role of cyber security in our daily lives and the career pathways some aren’t aware of.

  • Helping policymakers understand that almost every other key policy objective will be imperiled if we fail at this goal.  By definition, without technology security, we won’t be able to innovate to combat climate change, fight disease, build smart infrastructure, or grow the economy through innovation.

  • Upskilling team members through specially tailored learning pathways is one way to ensure that your organization is armed with the manpower to help identify and combat cyber threats. For more information on upskilling and reskilling, connect with us on our website.

Register to watch this powerful 90-minute conversation on-demand, in its entirety or view the highlights below. 

About Thomas L. Monahan III

President & Chief Executive Officer, DeVry University

Thomas L. Monahan III is president and chief executive officer of DeVry University. He is responsible for articulating the University’s vision, mission and values with internal and external stakeholders, as well as supporting and enhancing the institution’s academic mission and overall operations.

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