A lack of IT and related skills is affecting the country's ability to protect its online economy and critical national infrastructure. This is a key finding of the National Audit Office in a cyber seccurity review.
The report reads: "According to the government, the number of ICT and cyber security professionals in the UK has not increased in line with the growth of the Internet. Interviews with government, academia and business representatives confirmed that the UK lacks technical skills and that the current pipeline of graduates and practitioners would not meet demand. This shortage of ICT skills hampers the UK’s ability to protect itself in cyberspace and promote the use of the internet both now and in the future."
The report adds: "There is also a need for psychologists; law enforcers; corporate strategists and risk managers. Other professionals such as lawyers and accountants also need to understand cyber security in order to assess, manage and mitigate the business risk of cyber threats."
Apparently, experts spoken to by the NAO were also concerned about "a lack of promotion of science and technology subjects at school resulting in the reported lower uptake of computer science and technology courses by UK students".
The NAO's report also quotes Business Secretary David Willets when he said that IT and computer science teaching have suffered a "decade-long decline".
The report also acknowledges the government's efforts to address this skills gap, such as a Research Institute in the Science of Cyber Security, and the award of 'Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research' status to eight universities.
Five further 'key challenges' to the government's strategy were outlined in the report:
– Influencing industry to protect itself
– Increasing awareness so that people are not the weakest link
– Tackling cybercrime and enforcing the law at home and abroad
– Getting government to become more agile and joined-up
– Demonstrating value for money
The report concludes that the government's cyber security strategy has delivered benefits citing successful activity by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre.