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Could Welsh contractors solve the UK's IT skills shortage?

Paystream News

Michelle Derungs

Tuesday 10th Oct, 2017

IT contractors based in Wales could have a key role to play in helping to mitigate the ongoing skills shortage that is currently plaguing the sector throughout the UK.

According to the State of Cyber Security 2017 Report from ISACA, more than half of British businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the last 12 months, but fewer than half are confident that their workforce has the skills required to prevent and tackle future breaches.

This highlights that the skills shortage is continuing to affect hiring in the industry, as organisations are unable to obtain job candidates with the level of talent and expertise they require.

As a result, many are turning to limited company contractors and freelancers to fill the gaps in their workforce and are likely to be particularly interested in those that have undergone training at the new National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA) in Wales.

The new National Cyber Security Academy

The NCSA has been set up at the Newport campus of the University of South Wales and is being supported by the Welsh government. The idea behind it is to train up the next generation of cyber security experts, many of whom will recognise how beneficial it will be for them to work on a contract or freelance basis. This type of work can be well remunerated and also enables workers to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

If clients can see on a contractor's CV that they have been trained at the NCSA, this could help them to stand out among their peers when they are applying for roles. They may also find that clients subsequently recommend them to other organisations, as everyone is concerned about cyber security in the current landscape and wants to utilise these sought after skills within their company.

But what level of contribution will contractors trained via the NCSA be able to offer the UK as a whole?

Will Welsh contractors' support solve the skills shortage?

Speaking to BQ Live, Simon Ahearne, Managing Director of Swansea-based IT firm SA1 Solutions, commented: "Although this isn't only a concern for the UK, the country's reputation of being a digital economy is in jeopardy to this skills shortage.

"However, seeing the establishment of the NCSA is very promising and a great initiative to position Wales as addressing the lack of available talent in IT security.

"But IT companies should also be putting it on themselves to ensure adequate training is provided to those starting out in their careers.

"It's no secret that cyber attacks are getting more and more complex. Training to keep IT professionals up-to-date with the latest threats and how to deal with them is therefore also very important."

This is another area where Welsh limited company contractors - and indeed anyone who undergoes training at the NCSA - with a high level of IT experience could get involved. They could offer their services to clients on a consultancy basis to advise them on strengthening their cyber security, while also educating the rest of their workforce about the day-to-day protection of digital assets.

While Welsh contractors may not be able to solve the UK's full IT skills shortage single-handedly, they can certainly play an important role in passing on their expert knowledge and skills to firms throughout the country.

Thanks to modern technology, this can even be done remotely, meaning they don't have to compromise on the work-life balance that attracted them to becoming a personal service company contractor in the first place.