Stefano Capaldo, managing director of Firebrand, explores how CFOs can manage budgets to fill the cyber skills gap through the Apprenticeship Levy
Cyber security is a real and current threat, as seen with the recent far-reaching attack on the NHS.
The long-lasting effects of these breaches cost businesses their reputation, time and money, with the global cost predicted to reach £4.9 trillion annually by 2021.
Cyber security is now a term CFOs will be familiar with, as finance managers are a key player in implementing strategies to tackle this threat.
With the world’s growing dependence on computer systems, hackers are the biggest threat to modern day businesses.
The responsibility to protect the business lies across all departments and demands that smart, autonomous security systems are in place.
This constant pressure on businesses to be up-to-date with the latest technologies also leaves them vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially as they lack skilled employees who can tackle them.
Businesses need to act now to put a strategy in place to protect the business, by providing employees with the right skills and finance teams play a significant role in this.
CFOs need to ensure they put the right amount of spend behind initiatives that will protect the business and save them from costly hacks. So where should they begin?
A key area for CFOs to concentrate budget is on employee training, but it is important to avoid common pitfalls around investing in the wrong type of training.
As cyber security breaches are an ever increasing threat, training budgets should be assigned so that this always vulnerable and costly area of the business is safeguarded.
With most employees now able to access connected devices and sensitive data, it’s essential the workforce is not only competent, but confident, in basic cyber security skills, like changing passwords and not opening suspicious looking emails.
In addition to this, businesses need to hire and train professionals who understand cyber attacks, so they can react quickly in the event of a breach, and importantly, implement solutions to prevent a breach in the first instance.
It follows that CFOS need to consider what the most cost-effective and efficient ways are to train employees in these skills.
Cyber Security Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships schemes are a great avenue for businesses to upskill and train employees and bring benefits for businesses and employees by combining learning and earning.
Businesses can bring in fresh, loyal staff to boost productivity through apprenticeships.
Cyber security apprenticeships also enable businesses to grow their current employees existing skills base, which can help increase profits.
The new Apprenticeship Levy means firms of all sizes can overhaul how they recruit and train staff, as the Government is set to contribute up to 90% of the cost of an apprentice for all non-Levy payers, including training and recruitment costs.
UK-based employers with a salary bill of over £3 million must invest 0.5% of this figure in hiring apprentices or developing existing staff. This cash will be transferred to an Apprenticeships Service account, but if it’s not used it will be permanently lost.
This is a huge opportunity for employers, but according to recent City and Skills Group research, a third of employers liable to pay the new Apprenticeship Levy aren’t even aware of its existence.
Apprenticeships can be used to train employees in IT skills required to help tackle the risk of cyber security breaches, making training schemes more affordable.
CFOs should be considering the value of cyber security apprentices now and looking for the most effective training available in the industry.
There are cyber-security apprenticeship programmes available, ready to fill crucial roles left vacant by the skills gap. By using the Levy in this way UK CFOs can leverage apprenticeships to overhaul how they recruit and train their existing teams to save the business money and time in the long term.
How does it work?
Apprenticeships offer both entry-level and established IT professionals the opportunity to build their IT knowledge and enhance their skills through accelerated training in a real-world job.
Stefano Capaldo is Managing Director at Firebrand.