Day 2 of the Northumbrian Water Group Innovation Festival and the weather is still holding. It’s another beautiful sunny day with a light breeze and the free ice cream is certainly helping. There is no such thing as free ice cream however.
This day has been all about talent. How do we bring the right people into the sector? There are so many vacancies globally (an estimated 3,500,000 which is enough to fill the grandstands at Gosforth Park 140 times over) and most local businesses are screaming out for talent. Yet there are those looking for jobs who are struggling to get them.
Through the day we heard a lot of different perspectives, employers, recruiters, skills experts, universities as well as graduate apprentices. There was a lot to cover yet the issues raised were consistent. Either we were all wrong or these were the issues that need to be addressed.
In truth there is no skills shortage. There is plenty of talent out there but it is either working in a different sector or isn’t aware of the opportunity that cyber security has to offer.
For the last session of the day, Danielle from InsideOut Consulting, brought together the issues we had raised through the usual Post-it notes on a white board. There were three that clearly stood out: the perception of cyber security is wrong and this is preventing people from considering it as a career choice; there is an experience gap where businesses are looking for people with lengthy experience in the sector yet aren’t giving those without experience a chance to earn it; diversity is poor and we are fishing for talent from the same small pool.
There were no huge surprises here yet it was great to see the consensus in the room. We split up into three groups to consider what we could do to alleviate them and brought in a Dagon’s Den style group to decide on the winner.
The day rounded off with a group of the sponsors on stage describing what the problem was that we were trying to fix. All the rest were involved in week long sprints and in the main focussed on the water sector. Having three daily dashes meant we stood out a little. It gave me the opportunity to raise my two main objectives from the festival: to raise awareness of cyber security as an existential threat to businesses; that the North East cyber security sector is well placed to meet the challenges.
It was another great day.