Cybersecurity needs grads with a soft side, study reveals
Universities providing cybersecurity masters’ degrees in Australia are not teaching students enough of the soft skills employers want — according to new research, presented at the IEEE EduCon Conference.
Of the eight universities studied, all were found to cover in-demand skills, like critical analysis, problem solving and communication, in their cybersecurity syllabus.
However, only the RMIT was found to cover a sufficiently broad range of non-technical skills — with teamwork, creativity, leadership and strategic thinking also thrown into the mix.
These skills were all identified by industry professionals as critical for success in a cybersecurity role, as part of the survey.
The skill deficit is concerning, given the increased — and growing — demand for cybersecurity workers in Australia. As it stands, there is a national shortage of 2000 cybersecurity professionals; and, by 2026, this figure is projected to reach 17,600.
The researchers say it is also a concern because most cyber breaches are the result of human error, such as failing to update software, heed security advice or change default passwords.
Dr Joanne Hall, Lead author and cybersecurity expert from RMIT’s School of Science, said it was crucial that those training the next generation of cybersecurity professionals continued updating their curriculum to reflect industry needs.
“Those who don’t listen risk producing the next generation of cybersecurity experts with weak non-technical skills, as well as a low opinion of the importance of non-technical skills, when in fact they are critical in doing this job well,” she said.
“Communication and leadership skills are needed to engage with the wider organisation, project management and teamwork are needed to deliver a comprehensive cyber-defence project and creativity and flexibility to tailor a solution to a specific situation.
“Without these, no technical solution will succeed.”
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