The cyber security sector in the UK is failing to attract young people into the industry - especially women - according to research released this week by e-skills UK.
The research, carried out in partnership with information security recruitment consultancy Alderbridge Consulting, found that only 7 percent of information security professionals are aged 20-29, compared to 31 percent in the 30-39 age group and 21 percent in the 40-49 age group.
Meanwhile, there is a substantial lack of female talent in the industry, with only 10 percent of those who hold non-commercial positions being women.
The study highlights a need to attract more talent into the industry by creating additional entry routes such as apprenticeships, and signposting to relevant training more clearly. Nearly a third of professionals surveyed had progressed to their current positions from general IT or non-IT roles.
"This research offers real insight into training and qualification issues in the cyber security industry. Attracting new talent, of both sexes, into the sector is critical, and we need to make sure that new entrants can easily identify and follow a worthwhile career path," said Nigel Payne, Project Director at e-skills UK.
"The easier it is for them to find the training and qualifications they need, the faster they will become successful and productive assets to their employers."
A report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) earlier this month revealed that demand for permanent IT and Computing staff is at an all-time high, beating other sectors such as engineering, nursing/medical, accounting, executive and blue collar.
However, REC highlighted that there are a number of computing skills that are in short supply, including business intelligence, DBA, developers, digital marketing, Java, .Net, online marketing, PHP, PPC, SEO and SQL server.
REC called on the government to build the talent pipeline for the future by increasing funding for apprenticeships, and in its latest Budget, the government launched a consultation on implementation of the Richard Review, to put employers at the centre of the apprenticeship system and raise standards.
But Sumir Karayi, CEO of IT efficiency company 1E, made the point that this does not plug today's increasing skills gap, and the government needs to do more to enable talent to shine in the UK.