Tech Brain Drain Worsens Cybersecurity Skills Gap in the Philippines

Commuters queue at a bus station in Mandaluyong, Philippines, July 15, 2022. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The Philippines is facing a critical shortage of cybersecurity experts, leading to a surge in hacking incidents and digital intrusions. The country’s digital security skills gap has been highlighted as a result of the brain drain in the tech industry.

Amid escalating tensions with China, hacking incidents targeting the Philippines have seen a 325% increase in the first quarter of 2024, prompting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to implement a cybersecurity strategy. However, industry analysts warn that the nation’s plans to enhance cyber defenses may struggle due to the lack of skilled “cyber warriors.”

Cybersecurity professionals in the Philippines are being lured abroad by higher salaries, better working conditions, and relocation packages offered by companies in the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East. Despite competitive salaries in the Philippines ranging from 40,000 to 90,000 pesos per month, the country continues to lose talent to international firms.

Globally, the shortage of cybersecurity professionals has reached a record high, with an estimated 4 million vacancies worldwide. Developing countries like the Philippines are experiencing the fastest-growing gap in cybersecurity expertise.

The domestic shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the Philippines is attributed to inadequate training opportunities and recruitment policies at the national level. The Philippine Institute of Cyber Security Professionals advocates for a more secure cyberspace and emphasizes the need for improved communication about the demand for cybersecurity experts.

To address the skills gap, the government has launched new cybersecurity standards for educational institutions and training centers. Plans for specialized degrees and upskilling programs are also underway to enhance the cybersecurity workforce in the country.

As cybersecurity threats continue to rise, fostering accessible career progression and training opportunities will be crucial in bridging the skills gap in the Philippines. The need for cybersecurity professionals is growing, and efforts to attract and retain talent in the field are essential for the country’s digital security.

($1 = 57.7400 Philippine pesos)

(Reporting by Mariejo Ramos. Editing by Helen Popper. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit