Acronis Cyber Fit Summit – Fixing the Security Gap & Trends in Singapore
The talent gap in cyber security Singapore and across APAC is a critical topic to address with high demand and low supply of qualified cyber security experts. Businesses are rethinking their hiring strategies as attracting and retaining talented teams also become increasingly competitive. The Great Resignation also remains a concern as talent movement will be expected to shift and cause a disruption across tech firms, be it large or small.
In the recent Acronis Cyber Fit Summit, the event gathered the world’s top experts to support tech businesses where they also addressed talent and hiring concerns, and reviewed the latest cyber security trends, insights and innovation. We are proud to have Anca Pop, our Senior Consultant who represented our Singapore team during the ‘Fixing the Security Gap’ panel discussion.
What are the top cyber security jobs in demand? What are our educational institutions doing to help bridge the talent gap? Is upskilling your cyber security teams the answer? What government initiatives exist that can support organisations?
Sharing alongside experts in the field – Gaurav Keerthi, Ee-Chien Chang, and moderator Kevin Reed – we’ve compiled our own comprehensive summary of what we’ve heard from the session to address frequently asked questions around cyber security Singapore and their in-depth expertise within their fields.
How should companies address its gap in IT jobs in Singapore?
- Mid-career switch with transferrable skills
Gaurav: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to address talent gap. Companies need to be open to transition talent from adjacent fields, not just within cyber security. These related fields can include computer science and engineering as talent within this space are also thinking to move into cyber security. With the training and understanding of how systems work, experts in computer science and engineering are actually easy to transition. However, this is not an overnight solution, and cyber security is not easy to get into. Nonetheless it is worth the effort. Demand is currently driving huge vacuum to pull in talent within cyber security.”
- Building the next generation of cyber security talent in Singapore
Dr Chang: “We have increased our intake and are at an average of bringing in around 1000 fresh batches of students every year. Among this, 10% of each cohort has expressed interest to pursue cyber as a career.
What we do give them is the basics and fundamentals to learn – they have to be a ‘builder’ themselves, understand the underlying requirements, and what universities can do is to offer them branches of modules to specialise in – from pen-testing, blockchain, data security and fintech.”
- Embracing diversity and Women in Tech
Anca: “As a woman covering the tech space myself, I work to support a diverse range of candidates to place them in suitable jobs that they can find fulfilment and a career growth they aspire to achieve. What I’ve noticed is that we need to relook at how people view technical professions which were once deemed to be just a male dominated industry. There is a mindset shift, and this mentality is changing. We should all be aiming to break these barriers and misconceptions about the industry.”
- Upskill on technical skills but also soft skills
Anca: “When we are thinking of reskilling and career transition, it’s very important that companies as well as recruiters aren’t realising the importance of soft skills. Besides all the tech aspects where knowledge is transferrable, soft skills are equally important and transferrable too.”
Gaurav: “Whilst upskilling in the technical aspects of cyber security remains crucial, we tend to forget the non-technical roles that require soft skills which include governance and compliance, risk management and even policy development. If you are on the board of strategy directors, your involvement in international engagements will require cyber skills, but you don’t need all the tech skills. This is where soft skills need to come to play.”
Is offering a competitive salary package a winning strategy to retain your talent?
Dr Chang: “MOE conducted an employment survey. For IT, typically the median a lot higher than average salaries in Singapore and companies seem to be willing to offer attractive salaries to the top few performers.”
Gaurav: “We, just like every tech agency, are losing talent. They get a 10% pay rise offer in another company, and they move, and get another pay rise in less than a year doing the same job. However, cycle of poaching is not productive, and I’ll tell you why – by the time the candidate reaches the third or fourth company ‘jump’, they are not going to see any investment in the talent for deep training because this talent’s aim is solely to ‘jump’ and reap the salary incentive. Hiring managers will be very sceptical, as six months in one job is not enough to build any skill set or experience. Tip to talent out there, finish learning first before jumping. Those salary jumps will then be more fulfilling in your career.”
Anca: “Inflation of salaries is a two-way street – talent looking out and seeing the number of jobs available are thinking they deserve something better because the grass always seems greener on the other side – which is not always the case but it’s also companies that adopt salary packages as a talent attraction strategy. There’s no right or wrong but it can’t be the only solution to attract your talent.”
What are other strategies tech companies can do to retain and attract talent?
Gaurav: “Provide your talent meaningful work and set out a road map for progression for them and your talent will stay. Invest in their knowledge and operational skills and excite them with challenges.”
Anca: “Salary is never the only push factor; it comes as a function of other things. It is more important to listen to people’s interests for instance, learning that data security is one of the hottest trends amongst students is a start. Provide them with mobility opportunities and one potential option is remote work. This can be very tricky and not as easy as it seems. But this can be a mix of your strategies.”
Dr Chang: “Students can look at overseas opportunities and are equipped for remote working with Zoom. However, this is really dependent on students’ interest. International students may prefer to stay and find a job in Singapore. Local students who get attractive offers overseas would not turn down the opportunity.”
Anca also provided insights from a recruitment perspective of hiring talent outside of Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. She added, “Whilst hiring outside of the region is a solution, it’s not the best. It comes with recruitment challenges such as visa application processes. It’s not as easy, and it’s a lot of paperwork. Recruitment wise, we need to understand the cultural piece of each market and the procedures on what you can or cannot do. As a relatable example, I myself have moved to Singapore when I was a student, and I had a cultural shock when my peers here were more open to talk about salaries and how much they were earning in their jobs. This was shocking to me coming from a region where salaries and compensation talks were treated with big secrecy.”
What are the top cyber security jobs and talent in demand right now?
Gaurav: “Cloud security. The thing is to have cloud experience and security experience combined – these talent are very hard to find. Talent gap has grown tremendously as skills needed are becoming extremely niche.”
Anca: “What I’m seeing is an uptake in offensive security which was once looked as a cost department rather than something to invest in. However, with COVID-19, companies are now looking at addressing and preventing cyber attacks and this field is increasingly popular. Cloud security is another field as public cloud became popular in the last two years and the trend of hiring here is to make sure their infrastructure is secure.”
What are cyber security courses that are most popular with students?
Dr Chang: “Many students are interested in offensive and incident response. But from the perspective of teaching, we look on the ground to see what is in demand in terms of requirements and this includes acquisition assessments, incident response, and malware analysis.
On the other hand, we also notice a spike in demand for builders, and software engineers who possess knowledge of cyber security. In this sense it feels like universities are left to chase after a moving target as requirements change overtime and rapidly.
So in most cases, the strategy that is adopted by most universities is to equip students with strong basics and foundations whilst offering them a variety of modules that they can choose and specialise in. The most popular module has been data analytics.”
Final words of advice to cyber security experts, enthusiasts, or students who are looking to pursue a career in cyber security
Gaurav: “Upskill and reskill if you are a talent. If you are an employer, don’t just treat your employees as someone who are just looking to job-hop. Invest in them and they will invest in you.”
Dr Chang: “Be versatile. Industries should also engage students by organising workshops and internships to build interests amongst the younger generation.”
Anca: “Employers need to know that everyone is different. Learn about their motivations and interests – you need to listen. Employees equally need to understand that companies are also a mixture – the culture is different. Don’t look at one company and block it out as a potential opportunity. Be open and explore, but also look within as well.”
Are you a professional within cyber security Singapore or wish to enter the sector?
If you wish to find out more about talent trends and other market updates within cyber security, or may be a cyber security professional who wish to find out more about different career options, please reach out to us via the form below and a dedicated specialist consultant will be in touch with you. Otherwise, you can also keep a look out for our past and upcoming events here.