The cybersecurity and digital skills shortage is a concern in Southeast Asia. The demand for these IT professionals has never been higher.


Massive cybersecurity skills shortage in ASEAN

The skills shortage in tech, especially in cybersecurity is a concern in Southeast Asia, and the demand for professionals with these essential skills has never been higher.

The growing need for digital skills is most acute in developing countries, especially in the ASEAN region. Meanwhile, the cybersecurity skills shortage is especially prevalent in Malaysia and Indonesia, seeing rapid internet adoption rates and a growing need to protect data from cybercriminals.

Cybersecurity is at the top of global leaders’ minds. For years, experts have warned about how digital vulnerabilities are placing businesses and governments alike at risk.

A recent report from Juniper Research found that investment in IT security will grow by almost 6% each year through 2020. The study estimates that this will lead to a need for 1 million more information security analysts than currently employed worldwide.

Despite organizations’ best efforts to find people who can fill roles, there are no signs of the cybersecurity skills shortage abating in the region.

Lack of cybersecurity professionals

The cybersecurity industry is expected to be worth $170 billion by 2021, yet experts warn that businesses struggle to attract talent. Apart from the skills gap, other factors contributing are the growing demand for cyber experts. One way to solve this is re-skilling and upskilling. Many employees in traditional fields are asked to learn new skills. It is either because their existing roles will become obsolete or they need additional qualifications to fill cybersecurity positions.

Each ASEAN country has its own set of challenges. While Singapore and Malaysia have implemented new cybersecurity laws to help close the gap, there are still gaps in training and skill development. 

According to a recent study, there is a lack of skilled cybersecurity professionals, and the talent pool is expected to shrink further over the coming years. The study, commissioned by Oracle and conducted by IDC Asia Pacific, found that just 5% of IT professionals in the region have the technical knowledge and experience to analyze attacks on their networks.

The cybersecurity skills shortage is a growing problem for organizations finding highly-skilled engineers, IT security specialists, and other professionals, especially those trained to work with the latest technologies. With increasing demand from clients for high-end security services, some organizations are having difficulty recruiting competent cyber experts.

Skills shortage – job vacancies yet to be filled

A Digital Talent Survey released by SCMO and SERI highlighted the top two barriers to having adequate digital talent – skills gaps in the local labour market and the inability to attract specialized talents. 

Only 4.8% of respondents felt that the existing labor market fully meets their digital talent needs. Employers reported the most significant skills gaps in Big Data Analytics, Data Science, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing.

According to the leading global jobs portal Indeed, hiring activity continued to grow throughout October this year in Singapore. It reached a new high despite the escalating rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. 

By October 30, job postings on Indeed were up 76% from their level on February 1, last year. Postings rose by 4.7% in October alone.  

The reality is, today, more than ever before, organizations are desperate to find skilled IT candidates. But it’s not just about hiring; companies need to keep training them.

According to a report commissioned by Amazon Web Services, the number of workers requiring digital skills in six APJ countries (Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea) needs to increase five-fold to meet the demand by 2025.

Investing in skills training can provide new employment opportunities as many workers across the region consider their career goals part of the ‘Great Resignation’ trend spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Several tech vendors are already working with organizations and higher learning institutes to develop more talent to address the problem. The only question now is, will they be able to do it fast enough to met the demand.