8 ways to deal with the cyber-security skills shortage in Hong Kong

By Robert Half 14 September 2019

Businesses are progressively using more technology, have more complex systems and store an ever-increasing amount of data.

This is providing more opportunities for cyber-attackers and can lead to data theft, economic espionage, fraud and even extortion.

However, dealing with cyber-security is only half of the battle. The other half is finding talent in this sector to fill urgent roles, which the city-state is struggling to address.

Consequently, candidates with cyber-security skills in Hong Kong are in high demand.

In this article, find out why cyber-security skills are in such demand in Hong Kong and how companies can address the challenge.

What is driving demand for cyber-security in Hong Kong?

No business is completely immune from cyber-crime. And as more companies continue to embrace digitisation and the storage of data (especially in the financial services sector), so will the number of cyber-attacks follow suite.

Last year, Hong Kong lost more than HKD$2.2 billion last year from 9,000 cyber-attacks in the first nine months. According to a report by Microsoft, cyber-security attacks could result in losses estimating HKD$249.6 billion annually over the next few years.

Demand may exacerbate as more companies continue to invest in the city-state, particularly in areas such as cloud computing and big data that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Spending on IT solutions in Hong Kong is forecast to reach HKD$49.4 billion by 2021.

Other driving factors to consider include the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announcing its efforts to fight cyber-attacks through the Cyber-Resilience Assessment Framework (C-RAF), and the Hong Kong Insurance Authority bringing in GL20 – a guideline framework for the insurance sector to prevent, detect and mitigate cyber-security threats.

What is the recruitment challenge?

The current problem for Hong Kong is the availability of candidates in the sector. With cyber-security skills in such high demand and a talent pipeline in need of a surge, there simply isn’t enough local talent to fill urgent and available positions.

In short, hiring managers will find themselves competing against other businesses in a talent war.

Research by Robert Half found 77% of Hong Kong CIOs are finding it challenging to find professionals compared to five years ago. Furthermore, IT security was one of the top 3 functional areas where CIOs have worked with a professional staffing agency because it was too challenging to find qualified IT staff.

How can you address the skill shortage?

Whilst 35% of Hong Kong CIOs believe educators need to focus more on IT security, this alone will not address the recruitment demand.

If you are struggling to find talent to fill cyber-security positions, here are eight key tips to consider:

1. Evaluate recruitment needs – Evaluate your future cyber-security hiring needs now. Having a firm strategy in place can help you be better prepared for when you do need to hire a cyber-security expert.

2. Consider contract roles – If permanent cyber-security staff are not available, extend your recruitment opportunities to contractors who may be available to respond faster.

3. Offer a competitive package – People with cyber-security skills are in a very fortunate position as they can wait for the best job offer. To attract the very best talent for your business, consider offering a competitive salary, as well as other non-monetary benefits.

4. Streamline the recruitment process – Ensure your recruitment process is streamlined and effective. If you have a long, drawn-out or complicated recruitment process, your potential hires may decide to look elsewhere or get hired by your competitors.

5. Upskill staff – If you have an IT security skills gap in your business currently, and are struggling to find external talent, consider upskilling your existing staff with the necessary certifications and training.

6. Review your retention strategy – Once you have a cyber-security expert, you want to make sure they remain in your business. Review your retention strategy and put steps in place to minimise staff turnover in the future. This is especially important in sectors such as cyber-security where it may be more costly to recruit new talent than retain current staff.

7. Promote your corporate brand – In such a competitive job market, don’t expect employees to just come to you. Attract top talent by promoting your corporate brand effectively and showcasing that you offer a dynamic workplace and a rewarding career.

8. Consult a professional recruitment company – If you’re struggling to find someone with the necessary cyber-security skills, contact Robert Half today for a recruitment solution.

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