Using Competencies to Address the Skills Gap - Perennial Talent
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Cybersecurity Competencies and Skills

Using Competencies to Address the Skills Gap

Many industries and occupations are facing a shortage of skilled workers (e.g., agriculture, engineering, food and beverage, etc.). In this week’s blog, we look at how competencies and competency initiatives can be used as a strategy to bridge the skills gap.

One current and salient example is the cybersecurity workforce shortage. Currently, many countries are faced with a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. In fact, research suggests that:

  • 82% of employers report a shortage of cybersecurity skills
  • There is a shortfall of 314,000 cybersecurity professionals in the US as of January 2019
  • There is projected to be 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2022
  • 71% of employers believe the talent gap causes direct damage to their organization


What can be done to help close the skill gap? Below we outline some tips that might help reduce the gap.

1. Attract and hire people with non-traditional backgrounds

Given the talent gap in cybersecurity skills, try looking at transferrable skills such as problem solving, analytical thinking, communication, collaboration, and continuous learning. Think of it as hiring for cybersecurity potential rather than current cybersecurity proficiency as people with these kinds of skills are more likely to succeed in cybersecurity roles. You can use competencies to clearly define and assess these transferable skills and help people develop and discover skills they may not know that they have.

2. Develop internal training

Another strategy is to create internal learning and development or training programs to upskill people on the technical requirements of the position. For example, some companies like Microsoft have developed internal certification programs to ensure people have the required competence for a specific IT function.

Technical competencies (e.g., Incident Response) and/or knowledge requirements (e.g., Knowledge of digital forensics tools and techniques) can be used to describe the critical technical requirements for a position. Once defined, these requirements can be translated into learning and development or training programs. For instance, employers can create new programs that capture all the key competencies and knowledge buckets, or they can map these requirements for success to existing learning and development or training programs.


Crumpler, W., & Lewis, J. A. (2019). The Cybersecurity Workforce Gap. Center for Strategic and International Studies

Center for Strategic and International Studies. (2016). Hacking the Skills Shortage: A study of the international shortage in cybersecurity skills. Santa Clara, CA: McAfee. Retrieved from

CyberSeek. Cybersecurity Supply/Demand Heat Map. Accessed July 5, 2019,

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