Why there is still shortage of cybersecurity professionals in India?

Filling a cybersecurity role can take up to six months

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India's IT sector is having a peculiar challenge; there is an ongoing shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the country. This situation is not very unusual as there is a dearth of qualified cybersecurity professionals in other nations such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia and all these countries are also dealing with this shortage.

As per a recent report by TeamLease Digital, India’s cybersecurity industry had around 40,000 open job opportunities as of May 2023. Despite the strong demand and increasing salaries for cybersecurity roles, there still remains a significant demand-supply gap of nearly 30 per cent in the industry by the end of 2023. 

“In India, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is 9 per cent higher than the global average, with 49 per cent of companies trying to recruit talent finding it difficult to do so. It has been reported that filling a position in this field can take up to six months. Recently, there has been an upsurge of cybersecurity issues in major economies, including India, which has led to a greater emphasis on the importance of cybersecurity skills. Unfortunately, the costs of continued cybersecurity are not being accepted by either businesses or consumers, leading to a lack of emphasis on skill development and a shortage of skills in India,” remarked Girish Linganna, aerospace and defence expert and managing director, ADD Engineering India. 

Linganna says that in India, it is the responsibility of the government to provide skills at a sensible cost and this is especially challenging, given the fact that most people in the country are from middle-class families with limited funds, and investing up to Rs 3-11 lakh for cybersecurity training is out of the question. 

“There is also a lack of recognition of the cybersecurity training course from reliable sources. Aspiring learners are not aware of the compensation that cybersecurity experts receive in India. This is also a driving force behind pupils relocating abroad to obtain cyber training for a better return on investment, even if Indian firms are prepared to provide 2-10 times the standard salary. In order for India to satisfy the need for cyber experts, the alterations must come from the fundamental level,” added Linganna. 

Experts point out citing a recent MIT report that lack of a comprehensive cybersecurity regulation coupled with the low priority in formal education in the cybersecurity space have hindered the robust growth of digital economy in India leading to a lower ranking of the country. “Indian government must push forward both the policy initiative and recognise cybersecurity as a separate stream of education or training to counter the huge shortage India faces in this space. Even if the above are completed at a pace, we have at least a gap of three years before the fulfilment can fully address the shortage. Being a leader in tech talent, sad to say this shortage of cybersecurity professionals may limit the growth of digital economy and deserves emergent responses from the government,” Subramanyam Sreenivasaiah the CEO at Ascent HR told THE WEEK. 

As per media and other reports during the first quarter of 2023, Indian organizations experienced a significant increase in cyber attacks, with the number surpassing 2,000 attacks on a weekly basis. This marked an alarming rise of approximately 18 per cent compared to the previous year. 

Experts such as Aditya Narayan Mishra, MD and CEO of CIEL HR point out that the unforeseen pandemic situation had acted as a catalyst, for propelling the pace of digital transformation in India and worldwide. This momentum has been further fueled by technological advancements and the emergence of cutting-edge AI-based tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard. 

“Amidst these rapid changes, employers were caught off guard, lacking sufficient time to prepare their existing workforce for potential challenges arising from these technological advancements. Consequently, organisations have now recognised the significance of upskilling their employees and are actively addressing the skill gap by prioritizing workforce training. CIEL's PAN India study, encompassing 1,440 companies across diverse sectors, reveals that 41 per cent of organisations have allocated a budget to facilitate upskilling and reskilling initiatives,” pointed out Mishra.