Chronic talent shortage in Irish cybersecurity despite world-class potential

Chronic talent shortage in Irish cybersecurity despite world-class potential
Pictured at the Cyber Ireland workshop today were (l-r): Dr Barry O'Connor, president CIT; Michael Loftus, engineering and science CIT; Donna O'Shea, CIT; Klaus Bolving, Cluster manager; Jerry Teehan, Johnson controls;Gerard Doyle, ICT skillnet and cybersecurity skills initiative; and Richard Brown, national Cyber security software center: Photo: Eddie O'Hare

There is a growing shortage of cybersecurity workers in Ireland despite the country hosting a large slice of Europe’s data firms, experts have said.

An event by Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) promoting the new national cybersecurity body, Cyber Ireland, heard there are 2,500 unfilled vacancies in Ireland and a shortfall of 2 million cybersecurity jobs around the world.

An audience of more than 250 people from industry, colleges, and government agencies were told of the importance of bringing together all participants in the Irish cybersecurity industry.

In Ireland, the industry employs over 6,000 people in many of the world’s top security software multinationals, as well as SMEs.

Cyber Ireland, which is backed by the IDA, plans to enhance collaboration and the sharing of resources to combat what is seen as the exponential threat of cybercrime.

It is estimated that computer-related crime costs the world economy more than €1.5 trillion a year.

Its manager Eoin Byrne said the Republic was constantly competing internationally for cybersecurity jobs and investment.

“A cybersecurity cluster can support the needs of this rapidly growing sector, based on best practices from European cluster organisations, to ensure Ireland is a competitive global location for cybersecurity operations and research and development, and to support indigenous SMEs,” he said.

Richard Browne of the National Cyber Security Centre said the Republic could boast a large number of firms and academic researchers but said that such advantages needed to be nurtured.

However, he warned about the risks facing all types of organisations from global cybercrime and attacks, saying that it was akin to “swimming with sharks”.

Ireland has “substantial equity” in protecting data from attacks because the economy relied on multinational digital firms, he said.

Computer science lecturer Donna O’Shea said the “time is now for academia and industry to work together” on cybersecurity.

There was no national research centre in cybersecurity and there has never been a major investment in the research side, she said.

It was time for all participants “to shout louder”, she said.

The IDA’s Donal Travers said cybersecurity was relevant to all industries, including pharma, life sciences, and financial services.

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