Emergency Bell Sounded on Dutch Brain Drain in Cyber Security

There is a considerable shortage of cybersecurity specialists in the Netherlands. Professor Bibi van den Berg, member of the Cyber Security Council (CSR), sounds the emergency bell in Het Financieele Dagblad


More than ever students are being educated in cybersecurity. At the same time there is a trend of (recently) graduated academic cybersecurity professionals moving abroad. “We are beginning to feel the consequences of the government investing too little in research. In the EU it has been agreed that countries will spend 3% of the national income on research in 2020. The Netherlands has not even achieved 2% for years. For cybersecurity, extra money is finally being made free which is good news, but the surrounding countries are investing a lot more" van den Berg says. Last week Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus lauched the Dutch Cyber Security Agenda and announced that more will be invested in cybersecurity, rising up to € 95 million annually.


Demand for Teachers and Non-Technical Experts


Next to monetary reasons to work abroad, van den Berg signals another consequence of the brain drain and the market that does not seem to get saturated. Too little graduates and PhD students stay active in education while more and more students follow cybersecurity courses. This makes for a situation where professionals are constantly teaching but have less time to do actual research. In addition, van den Berg notices that there is increasing demand for people who understand the legal, international and economic aspects of cybersecurity. This means there is a demand for people who understand the technical language, but also the language of the business and, for example, the crisis manager. Moreover, for SME’s cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly important topic that cannot be left untouched. 


Knowledge Indispensable for Future Technical and IT Sector


That technicians and IT professionals remain indispensable for companies, has been evident for years looking at the shortage of professionals in these field according to ‘Mijn Zakengids’. While this development is not new, it is increasingly affecting society more broadly. Different domains in society are increasingly merging, meaning that in particular technical and IT applications can be found in every sector. Trends and developments in these sectors cascade into other domains. It is vital to understand the connection between education and the labor market and to facilitate cooperation and more overlap between business and education. This can for example be done by deploying hybrid teachers to transfer the latest knowledge from practice to students.


That the IT sector heavily influences all other sectors, including cyber security, and that there is a shift in the security domain was also established in the Statistics Netherlands (CBS) research ‘Education and labour market in the security domain’ which was commissioned by HSD Office as part of the Human Capital Programme and the Action Agenda for Cyber Security

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