IT security and safeguarding among top priorities for tech leaders as cyber risks surge

Source: press release, 10 October 2022

illustration: Robert Half Inc.
illustration: Robert Half Inc.

New research has revealed that over a third (36%) of the UK’s CIOs and CTOs say that rolling out IT security and information safeguarding initiatives are the key strategic priorities for their business in 2023 and beyond.

To meet this objective, 30% are actively hiring to boost their stretched IT teams. However, just under half say that candidates with the required information and cyber security skills are the hardest to find, whilst 29% cite problem solving as the most elusive soft skill, highlighting a growing skills gap for the industry.

This is according to specialist recruitment firm Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Guide, which analyses and reports on market salaries, hiring trends, and skills requirements across the technology sector.

The news comes as the Government warns of the growing risk to UK businesses from cyber-attacks. According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022, almost one in three businesses (31%) and a quarter (26%) of charities suffering attacks said they now experience breaches or attacks at least once a week.

In addition to developing cyber security projects, the top strategic priorities for CIOs and CTOs in 2023 are increasing efficiency and productivity (31%), expanding cloud computing initiatives (26%), digital transformation schemes (24%), and developing blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) projects. This suggests UK businesses are continuing to build on the progress made following the pandemic by enhancing their online presence over the next 12 months.

After the demand for talent with strong problem-solving skills, employers are on the look-out for candidates which can demonstrate teamworking (28%) and communication skills (27%), highlighting the need for employees willing to work effectively as part of growing IT teams.

The report also found that, due to the climate of information “insecurity” allied to the relentless growth of digitalisation and “big data”, tech leaders are clear that roles are likely to be safe from recession fears. Political instability is forcing businesses to consider shifting away from offshored IT support, opting to bring it in house or work with managed services like Protiviti to maintain service levels. In addition, 30% plan to add new positions for permanent full-time employees, and 22% will bring more temporary talent on board in the next 12 months to aid with growth plans.

Commenting on the findings, Robert Half Director of Tech Placements Craig Freedberg, says, “Growth, security and customer experience are at the forefront of leaders’ minds, creating unprecedented demand for developers, cloud specialists and IT security experts. Due to the growth of cloud and ‘big data’, security is a growing concern for many UK businesses, and this will only increase as the vast number of digitalisation projects near completion.”

“It is estimated that cyber crime will cost the UK around GBP 27 billion every year, with around GBP 21 billion of this coming from attacks against businesses, highlighting the urgent need for employers to source tech talent with the necessary expertise. However, our research shows that the demand for candidates with the sought-after skills far outstrips the supply and as such, we recommend employers upskill their current workforce to ensure vital IT infrastructure is cyber-secure and fit for purpose,” Freedberg continues.

Along with insights on employer expectations for 2022, Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Guide also includes salary data for a large range of roles, allowing businesses to find out how much they should pay and candidates to find out the going rate.