Japan’s Kyodo news agency says the country is under increasing pressure to train more “computer hackers” as the country experiences a shortage of information security practitioners.

Japan, the report says, has a shortage of over 80,000 personnel and over half of their existing security personnel need further training. Without immediate action the country will soon see a shortfall in adequately qualified personnel with which to protect its key information systems and other critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

A government panel, referring to a long-term strategy it compiled in June, discovered that 165,000 (from a total of 265,000) of those already in the industry were in need of additional training in order to remain effective against the increasing sophistication of the new breed of cyber attacks.

In order to address the issues of recruitment and training a long-term plan calls for more in-depth training at universities and other educational institutions.

To this end, 41 students aged between 16 and 22 were invited to a training institute in the city of Chiba where they learned about cyber terrorism and computer viruses from a team of experts. The group also engaged in hacking competitions to help improve their skills.

“It is essential to have young hackers with initiative to cope with sophisticated (cyber)attacks,” said Masahiro Uemura, head of the information security policy section at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Japan, of course, is not the only country in the world which is experiencing a skills shortage in this area.

In a newly published report the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has disclosed that adults in England lag well behind other nations when it comes to IT skills.

The report says that,

“The majority of the population in England now has access to ICT and this new domain recognises its increasing importance in all aspects of people’s lives and its implication for future national policy and planning.

The competence or skill is the intersection of the capacity to use ICT tools and applications and the cognitive skills to solve problems.”

Testing of adults in England, which assesses skills in a ‘technology rich environment’, guages users’ abilities to function in what many may consider to be a fairly basic IT setup – performing basic tasks, communicating via email and using other digital technology.

The average score across the OECD nations was 283 points with England registering only 281. Interestingly, Japan top scored with 294 which may suggest that the government and companies in Blighty may have an even harder job of addressing the infosec professional skills gap in the future.

Countries that fared worse than England include include Northern Ireland (275) and the US and Republic of Ireland (both 277 points).

Also of note was the fact that men scored higher than women in the tests, something that was true for each and every country in the survey.

So, not only do we need to assess training methods and encourage the next generation into the infosec profession, we also need to look at why the female half of the population appears to be less skilled in IT than the male half.

Are you hiring infosec professionals? If so, are you encountering a lack of applicants, a lack of skills, or both?

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