Why Practical Learning is The Future of Cybersecurity

The need for skilled cybersecurity professionals is one that is here to stay. As the threat landscape continues to expand and breaches become more commonplace in society, combined with our desire and expectation to have digital technology readily available for almost all aspects of life (preferably at the end of our fingertips), the requirement for cybersecurity talent is imperative. Yet, we are currently facing a growing cybersecurity talent gap.

It is estimated that by 2020 we are going to have a skills shortage of 1.8 million- with an estimated 46% of UK organisations suffering a cybersecurity incident in 2017 alone, and 70% of cybersecurity professionals arguing there isn’t enough inhouse talent in the field, solving the skills gap crisis is critical.

One way to work towards closing the skills gap and strengthening the future of cybersecurity is through upskilling existing staff. Immersive Labs, a UK based start-up provides organisations with access to a game-changing practical learning environment, through which teams can develop, assess and validate skills – all on-demand.

Practical learning

There are a lot of benefits assisted learning delivers to aid closing the skills gap within organisations. Offering inhouse training essentially widens access into the field and allows organisations to identify hidden talent within their workforce, which can be utilised in cybersecurity roles. It also removes traditional prerequisites for cyber roles. Whereas academic qualifications and professional certifications have habitually stunted access into the field, by removing the requirements of these for cybersecurity roles, access is widened and those with an interest in the field can progress. In-house skills development programmes can also encourage underrepresented groups to upskill in cyber and apply for roles. For instance, women returning to work, those with neuro diverse backgrounds who tend to excel, and military veterans. The surplus of underrepresented groups, if given the right resources, not only works towards filling the skills gap, but also increases diversity in an industry renowned for lacking such.

Assisted learning also removes unconscious bias, thus encouraging underrepresented groups to enter the field. For instance, women are notoriously underrepresented in the field; STEM subjects are often seen to be necessary to access a cyber career, and as fewer females go on to take these subjects, naturally there is a decrease in those who pursue cybercentric careers. Experiential learning environments, like Immersive Labs, allow organisations to give everyone in the workplace a fair opportunity to try something that they may not have before, thus identifying hidden talents which can be utilised within the enterprise.

Practical exercises are also a way for employees to retain knowledge; research conducted by National Training Laboratories shows that classroom-based / lecture training results in attendees retaining just 5% of the information provided. This compares with a 75% knowledge retention rate for practical learning exercises. With cybersecurity being a rapidly changing expertise, it can also be hard to scale. In contrast, platforms such as Immersive labs offer learners a flexible way to learn- at their own pace, in their own time, without the added pressures that traditional classroom environments impose.

Continuous practical learning is a cornerstone cybersecurity. It can effectively be a way for organisations to close the skills gap, by identifying hidden talent within their organisations, that may have been overlooked before due to traditional constraints. Not only that, it also encourages underrepresented groups into the field, providing a more diverse workforce.

immersive labs

About Immersive Labs

Immersive Labs uses practical learning for the 21st Century to close the cyber skills gap. They provide organisations with access to a game-changing cyber skills learning environment, through which teams can develop, assess and validate skills – all on-demand. Users participate in hands-on exercises. Each time they complete all exercises within a lab, they earn badges and compete on a company-wide leaderboard.

For more information on how Immersive Labs can help upskill existing team click here.

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