Cyber security: How BT is helping employees land a dream job they never knew existed

By Kevin Brown, Managing Director, Security at BT

The past few years have created new ways of working and doing business. A time of significant change has caused many to think about whether their current career path is right for them long-term.

According to research we conducted, 69% of people would reskill and work in a different field if given the opportunity. The number of workers looking to switch careers in the “great resignation” is an unprecedented opportunity to tackle the cyber skills gap.

What’s clear from our research, though, is the cyber security industry itself is still facing an uphill battle around perceptions and awareness. Before being told more about the sector, only 4% of UK adults would consider cyber as an alternative industry if they were to retrain. This reduced to as little as 1% in females.

We recently launched a first-of-a-kind 16-week reskilling programme, in collaboration with CAPSLOCK, to tackle the shortfall of people with cyber security skills and continue our commitment to investing in our people. The initiative will see people across various areas of the BT business retrained and placed into crucial cyber security roles, all while keeping their pay cheque.

The scheme is all about opening doors for those who might not have seen an obvious way into a security career, while also challenging many of the perceptions and barriers that are preventing people from considering careers in cyber security.

Perceived barriers to entry in cyber security

So, what’s the extent of the problem? Well, the cyber security industry is still perceived as opaque and inaccessible to many. When asked why they didn’t see cyber security as a viable career path, over two thirds (38%) of people said they didn’t know enough about the sector, while 32% said cyber sounded too technical for them, and a quarter (25%) cited age as a potential barrier. When asked to imagine a cyber security professional, 39% of people imagined someone with a bachelor’s degree or above.

The reality is that our industry requires a broad array of skills and there are a wealth of different roles in the industry, many of which rely on transferable skills that many people already possess. Those with the right attitude and determination can thrive in the cyber security industry, irrespective of their experience, education or age.

Insurmountable barriers to reskilling

The sector clearly has a way to go in addressing misconceptions, but there are also more general concerns about switching careers. Almost half (42%) of the UK’s workforce feel unable to leave their current career path.

Amongst those who feel barriers to switching careers are too great, over a third (31%) believe they are too old to learn new skills, 28% say the uncertainty of getting a foot in the door of a new industry is their biggest worry and 24% said they said they can’t afford to take time off to get the necessary accreditations for their dream role.

While addressing misperceptions of the cyber security industry is the right step in encouraging more people to consider the profession, we must also offer pragmatic routes into the industry. Reskilling programmes are a key part of how organisations can retain and grow talent, by identifying individuals with relevant interests, potential, and transferable skills and supporting them to reach their full potential.

Our recently announced reskilling opportunity is just one example of how we’re committed to the development of our own people’s careers. Outside of BT, we’re also proud to support the public through our Skills for Tomorrow programme. Since the start of the pandemic, our Work Ready webinars have boosted digital and employability skills, covering topics such as CVs and job interviews.

For more information on our reskilling programme in collaboration with CAPSLOCK 

For more information on careers at BT Security, visit our careers page