An MSP top priority: closing the cybersecurity skills gap

Expansion into the burgeoning cloud and cybersecurity opportunities requires technical knowledge as well as new vocabularies and marketing tactics.

by Brian Babineau, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Barracuda MSP

Brian Babineau, senior vice president and general manager of Barracuda MSP

As the pandemic subsides and the economy begins to recover, MSPs will be in demand to help their clients evolve and adapt to the next stage of their business journeys. 

MSPs will likely be tasked with helping the businesses they serve to:

  • Optimize their IT infrastructures
  • Make better use of cloud and remote applications
  • Improve flexibility and resiliency in their networks
  • Leverage managed services to respond to pent-up demands in their markets, and more

There will be greater demand moving forward for mobile device security and MSPs that have expertise in public cloud infrastructure and hybrid cloud scenarios. But, both MSPs and their clients will be challenged by the cybersecurity skills gap in the industry. To succeed, MSPs will need to invest in training and education for their existing workforce and be more strategic in hiring as new talent enters the market. MSPs can also tap into external resources and expertise, such as services offered through vendors and partners, to ensure they have the right talent to assist their clients.

Training and education will help you expand your technology portfolio and potentially open up new markets and opportunities. MSPs should compare market opportunities with their own internal skills gaps and organize training for engineers, technicians, salespeople and owners. Expansion into the burgeoning cloud and cybersecurity opportunities requires technical knowledge as well as new vocabularies and marketing tactics.

Find out which certifications are required for existing and new markets and which ones potential clients deem essential. Promoting those certifications will give customers confidence in your ability to meet their needs.

Now is a particularly opportune time to invest in this type of training, as the pandemic has spurred the creation of more online options—that means your team can get the benefit of the training while minimizing disruptions to their schedules.

In addition to helping your company grow, effective training will also improve team performance and morale. Employees need to feel valued at work to remain engaged and happy. By helping your employees gain new skills, you contribute to their professional growth and demonstrate that you value their contributions.

Don’t underestimate how important that notion of employee value is. The tech industry has traditionally had very high employee turnover rates. Retaining good employees requires more than just an excellent bonus program; they want to know they can grow in their positions, advance within the company, and develop new skills to keep their jobs interesting. 

Filling the cybersecurity skills gap is going to be critical moving forward. A 2020 Cybersecurity Workforce Study from The International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 found that conditions are improving, with the workforce shortage now down to 3.12 million from the 4.07 million deficit reported in 2019. Employment in the field still needs to grow by 41 percent in the U.S. and 89 percent worldwide to fill the talent gap.

Demand for these technicians still outstrips supply, so MSPs who need to shore up their security capabilities will need to invest in training for both existing and new employees to help meet their clients’ expanding and rapidly evolving security needs. 

How do you get around this problem? Attracting talent will be challenging, as MSPs will have to compete with each other and deep-pocketed enterprises. It will be vital to identify what security and cloud skills are required to help serve existing and new clients and target training dollars and certifications in those areas.

MSPs also have to evaluate whether it would be more cost-effective to hire new employees with the skills they need, train existing employees or partner with a third party or another MSP instead. MSPs will need to be creative and flexible for new hires—maybe there isn’t an available qualified candidate in your price range. But a less-experienced prospect with compatible technical skills and the ability to grow into the role may be an even better investment.

The shortage of skilled security and cloud professionals, combined with rapidly changing client needs, requires a creative response from MSPs. A combination of smart hiring and training and education can help make sure your company has the resources to meet those needs while also making it easier to retain valuable staff in a competitive labor market.

Brian Babineau is Senior Vice President and General Manager for Barracuda MSP. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s managed services business, a dedicated team focused on enabling partners to easily deliver affordable IT solutions to customers.

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