The IT industry has been urged to help the sector skills council e-skills UK address the skills shortage in cyber security.

With cybercrime being prioritised by the government as a key threat to the UK, the body is concerned that there is not enough information about what skills are needed to equip the UK with the capabilities it needs to respond to the threat.

One of the main ways to hopefully address the issue is by ensuring that there is an area in the National Skills Academy dedicated to growing cyber security skills.

To this end, David Blunkett, who was the Labour Party’s home secretary from 2001 to 2004, yesterday hosted a meeting to discuss the problems, bringing together the National Skills Academy with  IT companies such as IBM and Capgemini, education providers including the Open University, and the Police e-Crime Unit.

“The core issue is really defining what we mean by cyber security skills,” said Kevin Streater, executive director for IT and telecoms at the Open University.

“We brought together people to look at this area of cyber security and everyone realised we have very little information to address this skills gap. So the first step is to build a database of existing qualifications and courses in this space.”

Firstly, the National Skills Academy is asking all employers of IT security professionals to provide up-to-date information about what courses and qualifications they use and have found valuable for staff, in order to create this database.

Secondly, it has put a call out to ask security industry employers to volunteer to be on a cyber security advisory board to support the academy.

Streater said that it was important for employers to be involved in addressing the skills shortage.

“We’re asking employers what really matters, what qualifications, what training courses. That’s got to come from industry itself.

“Employers said they have a large number of [IT security] jobs available and very few people are applying, and a only tiny number have enough skills to consider. There’s a shortage of people with the right skills and experience,” he said.

Another meeting is expected to take place in the next six to eight weeks, to give employers time to consider how they can help support the skills drive.