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How Leading Organizations Are Closing the Skills Gap in Cybersecurity and Accounting


By Jorge Marquez, Senior Vice President, Robert Half

Every day, there seems to be a new story about hiring difficulties in the professional sector. The details and statistics may be different, but the takeaway is the same: Leaders simply can’t find the talent they need to move their organizations forward. Another challenge they face is accessing a diversified talent pool. Despite solid intent, firms are coming up short in reaching underserved communities and hiring from them.

As these difficulties continue to intensify, thousands of job openings go unfilled for weeks and months at a time. This is happening despite firms stepping up recruiting efforts and offering more generous compensation packages than ever before.

We see these trends in multiple fields across the professional sector. But when it comes to fields like cybersecurity and accounting — essential functions for most every organization — the issue is even more severe. While economists and labor experts consider an unemployment rate of 4% to 5% to be “full employment,” the unemployment rate is often much lower in these areas.

When you can’t succeed alone, find a partner

For years, companies facing recruiting challenges and prolonged vacancies would turn to talent solutions firms like Robert Half for help. Our teams have deep insight on the geographical markets we serve. We’re able to help firms market themselves as employers of choice and advise them on every step of the process, from creating a solid job description to making a competitive job offer. We also have access to pools of passive candidates who aren’t actively applying to roles but still interested in hearing about jobs that fit their skills and background.

Robert Half is heavily focused on helping the next generation move from classroom to career. Our recruiters speak at events, mentor high school and college students, and serve on boards of community organizations. The goals are straightforward: Help students choose careers that will bring opportunities for growth and give them the tools they need to transition successfully to professional life.

Working with the higher education and student communities has been a constant in our firm’s history. As we now expand this commitment exponentially, we’re guiding more students than ever before into fulfilling careers, while, at the same time, helping businesses close the hiring gap in the most sought-after fields.

A tight hiring market calls for new strategies

Robert Half is proud to offer our apprenticeship and workplace innovation programs to clients and students. We’ve partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor, state and community colleges, and educators to accomplish several objectives:

  • Close the skills gap in cybersecurity and accounting.
  • Provide students in underrepresented communities with opportunities to connect with employers and “earn while they learn.”
  • Enable organizations to access a new talent pool and tap into the future workforce today.

Once students complete a designated set of college courses, they are eligible to be matched with an employer for an apprenticeship. Firms can select an apprentice from a list of individuals who match their specific requirements. While they work, Robert Half provides coaching to the apprentice and ongoing support to the client firm. Managers can evaluate the individual’s day-to-day work over the course of the apprenticeship and extend a full-time job offer at its conclusion if they wish.

Early response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients value it because they can move their accounting and cybersecurity initiatives forward with a new pool of talent they couldn’t access before. Additionally, they can access skilled individuals at the very start of their careers. Students appreciate the opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience while they’re learning and value the option to earn significantly more in a Robert Half apprenticeship compared to other jobs, like those in retail or food service.

Read Jorge's post about Creating a Highly Skilled Workforce With Professional Apprenticeships.

Creating a new pipeline of diverse talent

Employers have a greater interest than ever before in hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. But interest alone cannot bring people through the door; it must be paired with proactive outreach and consistent momentum. To be truly successful in closing the skills gap and employing a more diverse workforce, employers need to tap into new pipelines for talent.

Creating pipelines requires a significant investment of time and resources, which can be daunting for any single organization to take on alone. Robert Half has done the foundational work here so that our communities of clients and students may benefit. We’ve established relationships with community colleges and state universities in underrepresented communities. We’ve partnered with faculty and client firms to develop the right curriculum requirements for apprenticeships. And we’ve engaged with students to better understand their experience and how the program can serve their career and life goals.

Closing the skills gap and expanding diversity in talent pools for the workplace are complex issues that can’t be solved overnight. But we’re excited to engage with our communities and make significant progress as we move toward meaningful solutions.

At Robert Half, we are never done innovating: We will continue to enhance our apprenticeship and workplace innovation programs in the weeks and months ahead. As the economy and employment market continue to present challenges, know that Robert Half will continue to be a resource that our clients, job seekers, students and communities can depend upon for guidance and solutions.

Would you like to learn more about how our apprenticeship and workplace innovation programs can support your organization’s success?

Find out more about Robert Half's Apprenticeship & Workforce Innovation solutions.


Jorge Marquez

Jorge Marquez is the Southern California-based senior vice president for Robert Half Government specializing in the delivery of consulting and talent solutions with federal, state, and local government agency clients and government contracting partners. Jorge also is the program leader for Robert Half’s apprenticeship and workforce innovation program.
Robert Half Government specializes in the deployment of contractors in support of federal, state and local government agency clients and government contracting partners to support your mission and move key projects forward. Robert Half and its consulting practice, Protiviti – offer public sector clients access to contractors for project execution through our $5B staffing enterprise which can deliver IT, accounting & finance, administrative, legal and creative services; through our global consulting practice, Protiviti – we can deliver subject matter expertise in technology, business process improvement, risk and compliance, analytics, internal audit. The enterprise together offers a unique solution for projects – we combine the expertise in our consulting practice with the size of our staffing arm – to deliver a managed solution, offering both expertise and staffing flexibility.