Today, cybersecurity is one of the most important fields in technology, and yet, despite its importance, many women and professionals of color are largely unaware that this career opportunity exists. Earlier this week, Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) released Securing Our Future: Closing the Cyber Talent Gap, a survey of young adults in 12 countries about cybersecurity career interest and preparedness. The results show that many of these young adults, ages 18 to 26, aren’t receiving information about the cybersecurity profession—and the problem is even worse for females. Globally, 66 percent of women reported their career counselors and teachers had never mentioned cybersecurity careers as an option.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that 86 percent of computer science degrees issued last year in the U.S. and Canada went to males. And when we look beyond gender, we learn that only 4.1 percent of these computer science degrees went to black students and 7.7 percent to Hispanic students, versus 58 percent to white students.
As we wrap up National Cyber Security Awareness Month, NCSA is turning the attention to the cybersecurity workforce crisis with a week focused on building the next generation of cyber professionals. The global shortage of cybersecurity professionals is expected to reach a staggering 1.5 million by 2020. Addressing this workforce gap is one of the reasons we created the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3), a program focused on recruiting and training young adults, including people of color, women and veterans, to fill this growing gap.
Launched in 2014 at the Clinton Global Initiative America summer meeting, SC3 – together with its training partners NPower and Year Up – serves as an accessible pathway to help underserved populations enter the cybersecurity field. The program combines key classroom-based training, meaningful hands-on internship experience and support for job placement.
SC3 is part of Symantec’s broader goal to excite, engage and educate 1 million students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by 2020. Partnering with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Net Impact and the American Association of University Women helps us raise awareness within minority communities of the many long-term career opportunities in cybersecurity—a critical step that can make an important difference as we look to encourage and empower the next generation.The SC3 program is less than two years old but we are already seeing positive outcomes. Individuals who had never considered careers in cybersecurity now have Network+, Security+ and Linux+ certifications. Additionally, these students have launched their cybersecurity careers with internships and full-time employment at major companies, including CBS Interactive, Conde Nast, eBay, GAP, KPMG, SAP and more. Of the graduates, 96 percent are black or Hispanic, and 38 percent are female, fueling a more diverse pipeline.
As we think about recruiting and educating the next generation, its important to remember that most cybersecurity professionals today were not originally trained in this field and do not have cybersecurity degrees. In many cases, participants of programs like SC3 will have more targeted training and be better prepared to step into these vacant jobs and help solve today’s cybersecurity challenges.
At Symantec, we truly believe that inclusion drives innovation. As we look at preparing future generations of cybersecurity workers, it’s critical that we recruit a diverse community that encourages different ideas. It all starts with awareness and education. We recently expanded SC3 to India and are broadening the scope of the program to also include veterans. We look forward to working with you and our nonprofit partners to scale this program even further to close the cybersecurity skills gap.
About the Author
Cecily Joseph is vice president of corporate responsibility and chief diversity officer at Symantec Corporation, the global leader in cybersecurity, where she oversees global corporate responsibility efforts, including environmental, social and governance program development as well as diversity and inclusion, integration and alignment