The government has identified a big gap in cybersecurity skills and is currently working with other entities within departments to try and plug it.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies said that a major skills shortage in cybersecurity has been identified by key entities within the banking space – including the Banking Sector Education and Training Authority (BankSETA) and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC).

To address this, both entities have partnered to develop a National Cybersecurity Skills Framework to guide the training of cybersecurity professionals in the country.

In its 2022/23 Sector Skills Plan, BankSETA said that the country needs to put a greater focus on the new regulatory framework for prudential and conduct authorities, with cybersecurity a risk that all banks must address by ensuring they have the appropriate skills to manage it.

“Cybercrime has grown exponentially as a risk to banks, and there is an increased demand for cybersecurity skills,” it said.

“BankSETA has partnered with SABRIC to develop cybersecurity occupational qualifications in the sector. The information shared by SABRIC helps shape the skills landscape in the cybersecurity space. It also has a significant role to play in the achievement of all the National Skills Development Programme outcomes,” it said.

The group said that particular focus needs to be placed on developing skills for:

  • Chief cybersecurity officers;
  • Compliance officers;
  • Skills programmes for Basel IV;
  • A range of occupations in cybersecurity.

As part of the plan, the group said that new technology and digital literacy programmes are being developed and piloted in the country and that it is making interventions where it can to ensure that the necessary skills are in place.

The programmes will specifically look at registering and upskilling unemployed youth, while also funding bursaries and other programmes for employers in the sector to address the skills shortage. The group’s plans include:

  • A programme on digital literacy – introduced in 2021 – is being piloted and will be rolled out;
  • It will fund demand-driven Technology, Digitalisation, Cybersecurity and Analytics skills development initiatives that employers are not able to access through existing BANKSETA projects. This can be done through (WIL, Learnerships, TVETs, UoTs and PIVOTAL programmes);
  • Register unemployed learners on a range of appropriate learnership programmes;
  • Register employed and unemployed beneficiaries in a range of PIVOTAL programmes to meet the banking sector demand;
  • Register unemployed youth on work readiness programmes, focusing on scarce occupations and skills gaps;
  • Register unemployed learners on a programme to improve pass results for grades 10, 11 and 12;
  • Assist TVET College learners to access work-integrated learning opportunities through collaborations with TVETs;
  • Assist University of Technology (UoT) learners to access work-integrated learning opportunities through collaborations with UoTs;
  • Fund bursaries to university, and university of technology learners in scarce occupations and skills gaps;
  • Provide bursary funding support to NSFAS;
  • Provide funding to employers in order to upskill or re-skill workers whose positions have/will become redundant as a result of digitalisation;
  • Encourage and support small enterprises through funding scarce occupations and skills gaps;
  • Provide bursaries to SME businesses so that they develop the necessary business skills to sustain their business;
  • Encourage and support co-operatives by funding training in co-operative institutions and co-operative members;
  • Support skills development for South African banking leaders expanding into Africa;
  • Register learners for bursaries for PhD and post-doctoral studies and support the development of supervisors of post-graduate studies which outlines the most difficult to fill vacancies in the banking sector.