APAC cybersecurity workforce led growth, but gap also widened

Image courtesy of Valeriy Khan on Unsplash.

The global cybersecurity workforce is at an all-time high, with an estimated 4.7 million professionals, including 859,027 in the Asia-Pacific region and 77,425 in Singapore alone, according to (ISC)².

The 2022 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study reveals that despite APAC representing the greatest regional growth at 15.6%, the workforce gap widened by 52.4% year-on-year at almost 2.2 million in the region — 6,071 in Singapore.

For this fifth annual report, (ISC)² surveyed 11,779 international practitioners and decision-makers in more than 19 countries including Singapore where 3% of respondents are based. Forrester Research collected online survey data in May and June 2022.

Results show that 60% of APAC respondents report their organisation having a significant shortage of cybersecurity staff. And more than half (56%) of respondents with workforce shortages feel that staff deficits put their organisation at a “moderate” or “extreme” risk of a cyberattack. 

For organisations looking to mitigate staff shortages, the research suggests that initiatives to train internal talent, rotating job assignments, mentorship programs and encouraging employees outside of IT or the security team to join the field were the most effective.

At the same time, the report finds that 71% of APAC respondents expect their cybersecurity staff to increase somewhat or significantly within the next 12 months. 

This is not far from the global average of 72%, which is the highest predicted growth rate compared to the last two years (53% in 2021 and 41% in 2020).

In addition to an analysis of the changing workforce, the study also highlights the top issues with retention, concerning workplace conditions such as burnout, the shift of racial, gender and ethnic diversity among younger cybersecurity professionals, the changing perception of certifications in the field.

“Geopolitical tensions and macroeconomic instability, alongside high-profile data breaches and growing physical security challenges, have resulted in a greater focus on cybersecurity and the need for more professionals within the field,” said Clar Rosso, CEO, (ISC)². 

“The study shows us that retaining and attracting strong talent is more important than ever,” said Rosso. “Professionals are saying loud and clear that corporate culture, experience, training and education investment, and mentorship are paramount to keeping teams motivated, engaged and effective.”

In Singapore, 67% of respondents are investing in training to help prevent or mitigate cybersecurity staff shortages at their organisation.

Also, 26% of APAC organisations have been more focused on business continuity and resiliency due to impacts from the Russian invasion of Ukraine but this is low compared to other regions.