Addressing the skills crunch facing Coding4Security

In the latest post for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I look at the role of coding and the skills crunch, amplified by the growing application economy.

The skills race is on: there is a shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM skills). Nothing new here; we have heard it before. However, what is new is the realization that it is not only an issue for the IT sector.

As the application economy continues to grow and expand, non-traditional IT companies are demanding the same skills too. Companies like JP Morgan employ huge teams of developers – more than some tech companies. Cars are becoming computers on wheels, increasing the demand in the automotive industry for developers. This is a fascinating development, and demonstrates that “going into STEM” doesn’t necessarily mean working for the traditional ICT companies.

As a software company built on innovation, CA Technologies is constantly looking for top development talent. But we too have witnessed an increase in demand from other sectors, while the influx of STEM-schooled students is not increasing. This is good news for those students choosing a STEM career as they will be in high demand, but it leaves a wide range of industries struggling to attract the talent to continue innovating.

The European Commission predicted that by 2020 there will be a shortage of one million researchers. And it is probably safe to say that with the economy going digital, this might be a conservative figure.

Advancing women in IT

At CA we have been supporting STEM focused initiatives to motivate students to go into STEM and also to advance women in IT.

One recent example, that was also part of our Cybersecurity Awareness Month efforts, took place last week in our growing Prague development center. As October 13 – 17 was Code Week EU, we organized a coding week for students aged 17 to18 from a local school. These students volunteered their time to code at CA. The project was called “coding4security” and challenged the students to think about data masking. We provided the hardware and the challenge and the students put in the brain power. It was just one example of how industry can get students interested in coding and security at the same time.

On November 5 we are supporting an event in the European Parliament on skills and the advancement of women in IT. CA Technologies VP of support Julie Baxter will be sharing our experiences as a company in finding the right skills and will also discuss how to re-skill and upskill our current employees.

These events also engage policy makers, as they are an important component of addressing the crunch. For example, through updating school curricula national governments can provide more flexibility for teachers to integrate new methods and objectives in their teaching.

Ultimately, this can help familiarize students with the newest technologies and get them interested in countless possibilities. Continued investment in our school infrastructure is paramount. In addition, we need to provide our youth the time and space after school to stimulate collaboration and creativeness.

On September 29 CA attended the European Commission’s Digital Action Day in Brussels. During this event, a 15-year-old student, Amy, was called on stage to talk about her business and interest in coding. She delivered a passionate plea for coding and getting the right tools and space to do so. We jointly need to deliver.

No silver bullet

However, we all realize there is no silver bullet; there is not a magical solution that will solve the shortage. We strongly believe that coordinated efforts between the public and private sector are needed to address the issues and find solutions.

When we talk about coding and its role in security, we are not only talking about building those products that enable security, but also that we are ensuring we can get the right skills to do so.

In a previous post on mobile security and secure development we highlighted the importance of building security into our internal processes to ensure the products and services we roll out are secure. So it is clear that we need skills to build the security products and the mindset to deliver secure products and services. This is the clear overlap between security and coding.

Only together can we make this work and increase enthusiasm amongst the young for STEM. And if we can only transmit part of Amy’s enthusiasm to the wider student population, we will have come a long way.


Christoph Luykx
Christoph is the global Chief Privacy Strategist, responsible for CA’s views and global strategy on…


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