There are several gaps in the workforce around cybersecurity. The number of women in the field remains static at 10% worldwide over the past two years. Additionally, younger employees are not interested in cybersecurity either—a recent survey by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that 18- to 26-year-olds worldwide are not pursuing careers in the field.
And if you combine the two? Millennial women are event less interested: 52% of Millennial women say cybersecurity programs and activities aren’t available to them in school, while only 39% of Millennial men said the same. On top of that, only about half of Millennial men are aware of what cybersecurity jobs entail, while just 33% of women are.
So what gives in this generation gap?
Conversations are not taking place
For a world in which we are constantly hearing and preparing for the next data breach or digital attacks, the survey mentioned above proves evidence that there are a lot of conversations not taking place. Security professionals are not talking to young people about their jobs, leaving them with preconceived notions about jobs within the industry. Think about this:
- 21% of respondents reported that they believe these careers are extremely stressful.
- 18% believe these careers are boring.
- 15% think cybersecurity professionals are underpaid.
- 21% think that fighting inevitable cyber attacks is futile.
Another major issue noted in the report is a lack of exposure to cybersecurity as a career pathway for young people in high school and college, especially for women. Even if students have a natural interest or are able to learn the material quickly, it does not matter because the option is never presented. Sixty-nine percent of young adults entered college and the workforce believing their high school or secondary school had not offered them the classes or skills necessary for a cyber-related career.
This is frustrating for the industry as there is little businesses and organizations can do to get young adults involved with, and interested in, cybersecurity at such a young age. This problem could continue to affect the generational gap for years to come unless educational institutions place more emphasis on this subject.
The good news
Fortunately, the survey also found nearly 40% of young professionals want more information about cybersecurity careers, likely pursuing a cybersecurity career if they are aware of what the job entails. Another 38% young adults in the study said they have competed in cybersecurity contests or looked for internships, scholarships, and mentoring programs in cyber security.
If educators are willing to focus on developing new courses and providing information about career opportunities, as well as current professionals being open to mentoring and job shadowing programs, then young adults may be more interested in cyber security professions and be better prepared to take on those roles. With online attacks hitting major organizations every day, organizations cannot afford to miss out on potential employees, and creating conversations about the industry and Increasing awareness is a step in the right direction.
What are you doing to engage the next generation of cybersecurity professionals?