How to Train Employees to Protect Your Company Against Cyber Threats

In the wake of the largest ransomware attack in history, business leaders are scrambling to find employees who can help prevent future attacks. According to the FBI, ransomware attacks have been increasing and companies are willing to pay skilled security professionals a pretty penny to prevent the potential and costly loss of their data—but cybersecurity professionals are becoming harder to find.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of information security analysts will increase by 18 percent from 2014-2024, which the bureau says is, “much faster than the average for all occupations.” Despite the increasing demand for these jobs, the labor force has not yet developed the skills needed to fill them. This skills gap is growing larger with every attack and mirrors a larger skills gap that exists in most STEM fields in the U.S., but especially in the tech sector.

Small businesses are the main target for cyber threats

To address this shortage, business leaders will have to work closely with different education and training providers to train new and upskill existing employees. According to a recent University of Phoenix School of Business survey conducted by Harris Poll, 40 percent of employees would like to have dedicated resources that help drive innovation while 39 percent would like to have more training. On top of the obvious benefit of higher skilled employees, employee training has also been shown to increase retention as well.

Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can be easily scaled up or down depending to fill your company’s needs:

Develop a Robust Employee Apprenticeship Program

It is important that high tech companies are realistic about what they can expect from a new employee. The type of software tools, coding languages and equipment used between each company is highly variable and constantly evolving, and the current system is set up where the burden is on education providers, students and job seekers to keep pace.

Apprenticeships are a great tool that businesses can use to encourage the flow of valuable information from senior employees to new hires. This hands-on training strategy that provides individuals with on-the-job training, a reasonable salary, and eventual full-time employment is a mutually beneficial way for businesses to develop a high-skilled, loyal and diverse pipeline of employees.

Get Employees Cyber Training

Any savvy employee in the tech industry knows that they must constantly upskill to stay relevant and employable. Oftentimes, employees will combine their ambition and self-efficacy to seek out ways they can develop their skills without any prodding from upper management.

To encourage this behavior, businesses can incorporate a variety of strategies that give their employees the flexibility to seek out a program that fits their lifestyle. These policies can range from giving employees yearly stipends earmarked for professional development, blocking out time at the end of the work day to take an online class, or even giving them a brief sabbatical to pursue a rigorous upskilling course at a bootcamp.

Recognize Emerging Industry Certifications

Smaller pieces of education shouldn’t be ignored, and employees should pursue certification options as it becomes increasingly difficult for the average American to afford the time dedicated to another full degree. It’s even more difficult for the growing majority of full-time student workers who also may be providing for their families.

Recognizing the need for fast-tracked, industry-specific skills, certification programs have emerged as a legitimate alternative to a traditional degree. Instead of spending four years learning skills that may be irrelevant by the time they graduate, students can pursue workforce-relevant skills that can make an immediate impact without having to shell out hefty sums of time and money.

Read more about cybersecurity for your business at TechCo

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Written by:
Academic Dean for the College of Information Systems and Technology at the University of Phoenix
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