The CyberCFO: Spend Your Money Where It Matters

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Cyber security is a real and current threat to businesses in all sectors and sizes. Below, Stefano Capaldo, Managing Director of Firebrand talks to Finance Monthly about the opportunities available to the cyber savvy CFOs out there, from employee training to cyber security apprenticeships.

Just a few weeks ago, Government revealed half of UK firms were hacked in the past year. The long-lasting effects of these breaches cost businesses reputations, time and money, with the global cost predicted to reach £4.9 trillion annually by 2021.

Hackers are the biggest threat to modern day businesses, but who’s responsible for implementing a strategy to fight them?

The responsibility of protecting the business spreads across all departments, and finance teams undoubtedly have a big part to play. In control of assigning budgets, CFOs need to ensure they put the right amount of spend behind initiatives that will protect the business. So where do you begin?

Training

A key area for CFOs to concentrate their spend is on employee training; but they need to avoid the common pitfalls of investing in the wrong type of training. As cyber security breaches are an ever-increasing threat, it makes sense for training budgets to be assigned to safeguard this always vulnerable area of the business. With the majority of employees now able to access connected devices and sensitive data, it’s essential all employees are confident and competent in basic cyber security skills. In addition to this, businesses need to hire and train professionals who understand hacking, so they can not only react quickly in the event of a breach, but can implement solutions to prevent a breach in the first instance. So what is the most cost-effective and efficient way to train new and current employees in these skills?

Cyber Security Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships schemes are a great avenue for businesses to upskill and train employees in the skills required for each individual business. Apprenticeships are understood to bring benefits for businesses and employees by combining, learning and earning. Through an apprenticeship, businesses can bring in fresh, loyal staff who can boost productivity. Data from the National Apprenticeship Service reveals that apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by on average £214 per week. Yet, apprenticeships aren’t just for new staff. Businesses have already found that cyber security apprenticeships enable businesses to grow their existing skills base resulting in increased profits, lower prices and better products.

The new Apprenticeship Levy means firms of all sizes can overhaul how they recruit and train staff, as Government is set to contribute up to 90% of the cost of an apprentice for all non-Levy payers, including training and recruitment costs. The Levy means that now UK-based employers with a salary bill of over £3 million must invest 0.5 percent of this figure in hiring apprentices or developing existing staff. This cash will be transferred to an Apprenticeships Service account, but if it’s not used it will be permanently lost. This is a huge opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted by employers. Yet, according to recent City and Skills Group research, a third of employers liable to pay the new Apprenticeship Levy aren’t even aware of its existence. Are you at risk of losing out on investing this money wisely? Or are you one of the smaller businesses that will now find apprenticeships more affordable? For companies of all sizes how you make the most of this opportunity is vital.

Apprenticeships are a great way for businesses to ensure they are training employees in the IT skills required for your specific company. With training schemes becoming more affordable with the Levy introduction, it is expected that the popularity of apprentices will only increase. Therefore, CFOs should be considering the value of cyber security apprentices now and looking for the most effective training available in the industry.

There are cyber-security apprenticeship programmes available, ready to fill crucial roles left vacant by the skills gap. By using the Levy in this way UK firms can leverage apprenticeships to overhaul how they recruit and train their existing teams to become IT security professionals.

How does it work?

Firebrand is the first UK training provider to deliver the new Cyber Security Apprenticeship Standards. Apprenticeships offer both entry-level and established IT professionals the opportunity to build their IT knowledge and enhance their skills through accelerated training in a real-world job.

Unlike other programmes, Firebrand apprentices aren’t on day release – they’re a full-time employee. The programme includes residential training throughout the year. Between these training weeks, the employer can focus on giving their apprentice the best work experience possible.

For businesses the training ensures their level of preparedness in case of a cyber-attack is increased, with the right staff sharing the right skills whatever your sector or workforce size.

With the launch of the Levy, huge businesses opportunities exist – now all you have to decide is how will you accelerate your apprenticeship journey?

To find out more about accelerated apprenticeship schemes, click here or follow Firebrand on @BeAFirebrand

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