European businesses struggle to close the privacy skills gap

One in five European businesses said a skills gap means it can take them more than six months to fill a technical privacy position, a new report claims

A new report published by global digital trust association ISACA has revealed that while many European businesses understand the importance of privacy, they are struggling to implement it effectively.

According to the report entitled Privacy in Practice, 87 per cent of European organisations offer privacy awareness training to employees, but 94 per cent of companies surveyed recognised a privacy skills gap within their business.

The report also found that 59 per cent of technical privacy teams in Europe are understaffed, and one in five businesses said it takes them more than six months to fill a technical privacy position. Furthermore, 41 per cent of businesses reported that their privacy budgets are underfunded.

The most common causes of privacy failures reported by businesses included a lack of training or poor training (49 per cent), data breaches (38 per cent), and not practising privacy by design (39 per cent).

Privacy skills demand is good news for candidates

“Privacy professionals play a key role in establishing digital trust,” says Chris Dimitriadis, Global Chief Strategy Officer, ISACA. “As technology advances, introducing new complexities and threats and as the cyberthreat landscape increases in size and sophistication, demand for these individuals is only going to grow. Heightened privacy skills demand is good news for candidates with privacy technology knowledge but also bad news for businesses that are struggling to close the privacy skills gap.”

In light of the findings, ISACA has urged businesses to change their approach to closing the privacy skills gap, warning that failure to do so could jeopardise their relationships with customers and damage their reputation.

Tony Hughes, ISACA Emerging Trends Working Group Member, says: “Only searching for candidates with specific experience and technical privacy skills is an outdated mindset – it immediately limits businesses to a small pool of people. Instead, organisations need to lean on reskilling people in non-privacy roles, using contract employees and focusing on individuals with the right soft skills to reduce the privacy skills gap.”

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