Businesses ‘need neurodiversity to plug cyber skills gap’

Businesses should focus on attracting more neurodiverse people into the workplace to help fill the skills gap in cyber security, according to a new report.

The study from CREST, a not-for-profit accreditation and certification body for the technical security industry, recommended ways in which careers advice and recruitment processes can be more creative, inclusive and tailored for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

An estimated 10 per cent of the UK population are neurodiverse in some form, the report stated, with employers missing out on a great deal of talent.

A link between certain neurological conditions and high performance in technical roles has long been acknowledged, but the report stressed that having a ‘neurodiversity strategy’ should not be a one-size-fits-all initiative and businesses need to listen to people about their needs and how they prefer to operate.

The cyber security industry has already recognised that people on the Autistic spectrum can provide valuable skills and are often the best performers in technical roles. For example, GCHQ is one of the biggest employers of Autistic people in the UK, while the National Crime Agency (NCA) has revealed that some teenage hackers have been found to be on the Autistic spectrum and are being targeted for recruitment by criminals.

The CREST report was based on a series of interactive workshops and provided a number of recommendations to support the existing neurodiverse workforce, help retain them and to provide reassurance to future employees.

Ian Glover, president of CREST, said: “As a society we’ve put great emphasis on literacy, numeracy, concentration and social interaction in terms of fundamental skills for the workplace, but the tide is turning as employers recognise they cannot afford to ignore large and previously untapped reservoirs of talent.”

He added: “Embracing a workplace that offers different thinking styles and approaches to problem solving, and innovation can thrive simply makes good business sense.”

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