Security CTOs argue over the merits of UK graduates

By Stuart Sumner
15 Jun 2012 View Comments
Academic mortarboard symbol on computer keyboard

For several years firms have complained of the dearth of IT graduates entering the job market from university, and this problem is all the more stark in the security sector.

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The government, in tandem with the private sector, has attempted to address the problem by initiating the Cyber Security Challenge, a regular series of competitions designed to raise awareness of the potential of careers in security.

"[UK cyber security skills] are wholly inadequate," said Baroness Neville-Jones in a lecture at the Global Strategy Forum earlier this year.

But according to at least one leading firm, the problem in the UK is not just the scarcity of graduates, but the paucity of their skills.

Nikolai Grebbenikov, CTO of security firm Kaspersky told Computing that graduates of the UK's education system compare unfavourably in some areas with those from Russia.

"Our UK employees find it harder to understand new areas, and multiple projects. Whereas our employees in our Moscow headquarters have a broader understanding of different issues."

He added that sometimes it's necessary for Russian staff to work with UK-based employees to help them to improve their understanding.

"We currently see better performance from some of our UK staff when they work directly with Russian employees, they help to apply their knowledge to new areas."

However, Grebbenikov's views jarred badly for Raj Samani, CTO of rival security company McAfee.

"It's dangerous to stereotype a nation, or the graduate pool from an entire country. We would do our level best to try to understand the competence of the individual themselves, and their capabilities, as opposed to something as simplistic as their postcode."

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