It’s hard to believe we’ve entered the last week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2015! Week 5’s theme is Building the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals, and this week highlights information about cybersecurity careers and the need for ongoing Internet and safety education toward building cyber-literate digital citizens.
One of the greatest cybersecurity risks we face is a shortage of professionals to protect the vast networks we are building: the demand for cybersecurity experts is growing much more quickly than the overall IT job market, and as our world becomes more connected, kids are using technology at earlier ages and in more ways. Not having enough professionals in the cyber workforce poses risks to both our national security and economy. It is essential that young people graduate from schools prepared to enter the workforce and adulthood using technology safely, securely, ethically and productively.
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) recently partnered with Raytheon on a global survey of nearly 4,000 young adults to gauge their interest in and preparedness for cyber careers. The results of this year’s survey indicate that millennials aren’t acutely aware of cybersecurity job opportunities, with 62 percent of respondents saying no teachers had mentioned cyber as a career option and 62 percent not knowing the tasks of cyber professionals. Additionally, the survey indicates that schools are not adequately preparing young adults for cyber careers (with only 60 percent of respondents reporting having had computers in the classroom by age nine). Additionally, there is a gender gap regarding interest in cybersecurity jobs, with females less interested and informed about these careers than their male counterparts.
Despite the “talent gap” and need for more cybersecurity professionals, the survey did show that young people are generally interested in careers that have the key qualities met by cybersecurity positions, including work focused on a mission and competitive salaries. Additionally, as young people value the richness of their online lives, they may find work in cybersecurity to be appealing and rewarding. By working together across sectors and continuing to strengthen awareness efforts like NCSAM, we can encourage young people’s interest in cybersecurity careers and help educators, parents and community parts have roles in building the next-generation cybersecurity workforce.
Raytheon created an infographic to highlight the results of this study, which you can download here.
A recent NCSA-ESET study, Behind Our Digital Doors: Cybersecurity & the Connected Home, revealed the following:
- 83% of parents believe its either important or very important that their child graduate from high school with the right skills to use technology safely, securely, ethically and productively.
- Only 22% of parents have received any information about or had their child (or children) mention participation in a cyber-challenge or cyber competition.
Parents play an important role in the kinds of careers children pursue so educating them helps increase interest in cybersecurity careers.
Here’s what you can do to help close the cybersecurity talent gap and foster a safer, more secure and more trusted Internet for the future:
At home and in the community:
- Volunteer at a school or community program to teach kids about online safety and cybersecurity careers (we’ve created free teaching resources you can use!)
- If you are a parent, learn about the educational steps to a career in cybersecurity and research cyber camps and/or programs in which your children can participate
- Expose students to opportunities in the field of cybersecurity by hosting an open house at your business to talk about what your cybersecurity employees do
- Inspire students to learn about cybersecurity by mentoring a team in a cyber challenge or hosting an event or after-school program
- Create an internship program for hands-on cybersecurity learning
There are some exciting things coming for the final week in NCSAM 2015. NCSA is partnering with Passcode to host a conversation on three pillars of the cyber talent discussion – workforce, education and diversity – featuring leading thinkers from government, the private sector and educational institutions. Attendees will learn what’s working and what isn’t in creating tomorrow’s cyber workforce and discover ways they can contribute to a deeper pool of cyber talent. Learn more about the event or watch the video here.Additionally, @STOPTHNKCONNECT will host a Twitter chat on cybersecurity careers, “So You Want to Work in Cybersecurity?,” on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT. Use #ChatSTC to join!
Don’t forget to follow and use the hashtag #CyberAware all week long to help us promote a safer Internet as we close out NCSAM 2015.