As organizations continue pursuing digital transformation efforts\u2014from introducing new products and services to leveraging the cloud to continuing hybrid work\u2014securing an enterprise's assets has never been more crucial. Yet leaders struggle to hire critical security and IT positions, as there aren\u2019t enough qualified applicants to fill open roles. \n\nMeanwhile, malicious actors are advancing their tactics, introducing new variants of well-known attack methods, and finding more sophisticated ways to infiltrate networks. They\u2019re also increasingly embracing Crime-as-a-Service operations, which can provide even novice cybercriminals with the tools and knowledge needed to carry out a successful attack. \n\nWith organizations facing growing cybersecurity threats, now is the time to employ innovative strategies to mitigate organizational risk. While recruiting and hiring new security professionals is undoubtedly a part of that strategy, you might be overlooking one of your most valuable assets in the fight against cybercrime: your existing employees. Offering upskilling and reskilling opportunities to your current team members is an effective way to advance your internal capabilities and safeguard your organization while making your enterprise less dependent on competing for new security talent.\n\nThe skills gap increases organizational risk\n\nThe skills gap continues to plague organizations around the globe as the threat landscape intensifies. As a result, breaches are becoming more ubiquitous, making every business a target. In the past year, more than 80% of organizations suffered a security breach, with almost 30% suffering five or more. Nearly half of those who experienced a breach said it cost their organization over $1 million to remediate the incident.\n\nWhile most security breaches can't be attributed to a single cause, many leaders say the ongoing cybersecurity skills gap plays a role in these incidents. Nearly 70% of security leaders say their enterprises face additional risks because of the cybersecurity skills shortage. At the same time, more than half of leaders indicate they also struggle to recruit and retain cybersecurity talent. Both recruitment and retention are equally concerning challenges, with skills needed most in the areas of cloud security, threat intelligence, and malware analysis. Specific roles that are proving the most difficult to fill include those focused on cloud security, security operations, and network security. \n\nThe good news is that many public and private sector organizations are actively working to shrink the cyber skills gap. For example, many seek to source candidates from untapped talent pools to fill these vital positions. Yet even as employers implement more creative approaches to recruiting, the threat landscape is moving at such an unprecedented pace that even the most well-staffed enterprises are finding it difficult to effectively protect their digital assets.\n\nThe many benefits of upskilling\n\nCybercriminals are showing no signs of slowing, meaning cybersecurity professionals at all levels will need to continually improve their skills and abilities to manage organizational risk effectively. As businesses increasingly embrace new technologies and automation, this magnifies the need for ongoing learning, with the World Economic Forum reporting that half of all employees will require reskilling by 2025.\n\nIt\u2019s encouraging to see that most security leaders already recognize the benefits of upskilling, both for their organization and individual employees, and are committed to supporting individuals in pursuing these opportunities. Upskilling\u2014through opportunities like certification programs\u2014has the potential to improve morale, increase productivity, speed career growth, and enhance employee satisfaction, among other perks. Nearly all leaders (95%) with certifications themselves or who have a certified employee on their team say they have experienced positive results, such as increased cybersecurity knowledge (72%), better performance of duties (62%), and even higher salaries (47%). \n\nEffective risk mitigation requires ongoing learning\n\nAs cybercrime flourishes and your security team's daily task list inevitably grows, your employees need to dedicate time to refreshing and enhancing their skills. Offering ongoing upskilling opportunities is a must-do to ensure your security team and strategy remain effective. And while there are many options for upskilling, certification programs are an accessible, impactful way for security professionals to stay one step ahead of malicious actors, advance their careers, and ultimately protect their respective enterprises.\u00a0\n\nEmbrace training programs to upskill your existing security talent\n\nThere are many well-regarded cybersecurity training and certification programs available that can benefit learners of all levels. Obtaining these certifications often takes far less time than, for example, enrolling in a degree program, making certifications a desirable option for those already employed in the cybersecurity field. Certifications go a long way toward helping to upskill professionals so they can stay ahead of the changing cyber landscape and learn about the latest security technologies. Some certifications\u2014such as the Fortinet Training Institute\u2019s Network Security Expert (NSE) Certification program\u2014even offer role-based training opportunities that map to specific skill sets, with specialized paths for network administrators, cybersecurity analysts, system engineers, security architects, and more.\n\nEmployers increasingly use certifications to verify individual abilities when hiring new employees and are more willing to support current employees in pursuing these programs. According to the Fortinet 2023 Cybersecurity Skills Gap report, 90% of respondents say they would pay for an employee to obtain a cybersecurity certification.