What can we expect for the Cybersecurity jobs market in Belgium in 2020?
Facing online threats that range from data theft to extortion, security is a critical area of concern for boardrooms in the coming decade. However, while cybersecurity recruitment has long been a challenge, it's widely agreed that there's a shortage of skilled workers across the whole of Europe today.
What's more, GDPR now places the onus on businesses to deal with breaches, acting with due care to prevent intrusion and to swiftly inform consumers of the issue, in the event of failure. All this means that cybersecurity talent is in extremely high demand.
In Belgium, the jobs market is particularly tight; economic growth in 2018 saw high levels of hiring across the board, with double digit year-on-year growth in Brussels and Antwerp – effectively boosting competition for all positions, in IT and beyond
Building cybersecurity expertise
Marc Samson, Cybersecurity Manager and CISO at Engie (Belgium), agrees with this verdict. “There is a shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals,” he says. “Businesses should consider implementing apprenticeship programs to train and subsequently hire-on and retain qualified professionals. Cybersecurity can only partly be taught at universities. It is a field that requires hands-on experience. By initiating this earlier in the employee's career, it offers tremendous benefits for both parties.”
The solution to the general skills shortage may very well be to promote internal training and on-the-job learning – building a team from graduate level upwards rather than buying in more experienced staff. Relevant degrees and specific technical skills will be particularly important for these recruits; and experience in security monitoring, identifying threats and vulnerabilities and managing technical projects will be highly sought after.
That said, with an increasingly complex digital landscape, there's demand for an ever-growing breadth of expertise. “With the continuous evolution of new cloud-based delivery models, the skillset that is needed to properly defend our organizations is shifting,” says Marc. “Cybersecurity professionals are expected to have a very broad range of skills in this landscape, including DevOps, IoT, OT and even AI or machine learning.”
In Belgium, multilingual candidates are also in high demand – and particularly so in Brussels. Naturally, candidates with a combination of French, Dutch, German and English will be well-placed to pick and choose where they work and with whom.
Whilst digital transformation has taken root across the commercial world, the online environment has naturally shifted. While the era of cloud-migration is coming to a close, the so-called “Internet of poorly secured Things” is looming large as a significant new threat vector. And, perhaps inevitably, each of these niches creates new specialities in the cybersecurity field. Meanwhile, a DevSecOps culture has increasingly been accepted as a new norm and developers across the board are expected to have some security awareness.
New technologies are also emerging that will assist cybersecurity. As Marc comment, “The advent of threat analytics – and leveraging the cloud to provide these services in practical ways such as end-point security or traffic filtering – offers a tremendous tool that can help protect infrastructure and data.”
Of course, the number one defence against new threats is have the personnel and expertise on-hand to combat them. “[Businesses have to] invest in their human capital,” says Marc. “Make sure the resources and time are made available so that cybersecurity professionals can continuously upgrade their skillset. This is an extremely fast-moving field [and] it’s absolutely a necessity to keep learning and keep moving – lest we all fall behind.”
Businesses have several avenues for tackling the skills gap – by networking, by building a reputation in the community and by upskilling new hires. And given the fact that the balance of supply and demand currently favours candidates, recruiters would also do well to actively engage potential hires and to ensure that staff consistently have the opportunity to train up and to tackle new challenges.
As the industry moves fully online and services and supply chains become more tied to the digital world, security is only becoming more important. Companies that fail may face significant damage to their corporate reputation as well as huge financial and legal liabilities.
Fortunately, given the seriousness of this, companies across Europe and beyond do seem to be taking proactive measures – promoting CISOs and moving resources and new technologies into detection and prevention.
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