The issue of cyber security has overtaken the skills shortage as the number one business concern of senior Australian executives, prompting calls for Australian schools to begin educating students even younger on the global cyber security epidemic.
Accounting firm KPMG surveyed 319 senior executives and board members from private sector businesses about key challenges in the next 12 months and over the next five years. The survey found 43% of those surveyed said cyber security was the key issue for 2024, while 35% listed it as the main concern over the next three to five years.
Edith Cowan University (ECU) Senior Lecturer and international cyber security expert Dr Mohi Ahmed says the survey results are “no surprise to us in cyber security”.
“For more than two decades now, both the industry and government have been calling for upskilling to get people educated and trained in the cyber security profession,” Dr Ahmed said. “We need to tackle what is now a national and global epidemic.”
KPMG Australia chief executive Andrew Yates said high-profile cyber-attacks in the past 12 months reinforced the importance of cyber security and training.
“As global economies and supply chains were disrupted, organisations had to rethink their dependencies on goods, services and the digital infrastructure that underpins them,” he said. “Cyber security is now the golden thread at the heart of every business.”
Research from the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network shows that nearly 17,000 more cyber security workers are needed by 2026 if Australia is to be adequately prepared in tackling cyber challenges.
Another study into skill shortages in Australia, conducted by CyberCX, found the National Skills Commission (NSC) data indicates that an extra 30,000 cyber security skilled professionals will be needed by 2026 to keep up with rapidly changing security needs.
“If we can begin pressing upon our young people the importance of cyber security, as young as grade one and two, we can get them interested in a potential career in the field later in life,” Dr Ahmed said.