Millennials Interest in Cybersecurity Education and Careers Increasing in Wake of U.S. Election
Shane Laros posted on December 07, 2016 |
Cyber threats during the recent U.S. election have drawn attention to the cybersecurity talent gap.

Cybersecurity became a hot topic during the 2016 election season, and has brought an awareness to the field that it has lacked in the past.

It may be just in time, as a recent survey commissioned by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance has outlined the state of global millennial age group interest in the cybersecurity field, showing both a dramatic increase in awareness, and a large gap in gender equity. This could lead to more educational opportunities for engineering students and other technical disciplines, as the millennial generation will be needed to fill jobs in this growing industry.

While the election may not have been directly responsible for the numbers shown in the survey, Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap, it has shined a light on a profession that may be critical for the future.

From Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap (Diagrams courtesy of Raytheon.)
From Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap (Diagrams courtesy of Raytheon.)

In addition to a public perception that cybersecurity should be a focus of elected officials, the survey found that:

  • In the U.S., the number of young adults who say they have read or heard a news account of cyber attacks within the last year nearly doubled, from 36 percent in 2015 to 64 percent in 2016
  • Globally, 59 percent of men, up from 43 percent in 2015, reported receiving formal cyber safety lessons, compared to 51 percent of women, an increase from 40 percent a year ago
  • Globally, 54 percent of young men, up from 46 percent in 2015, said they were aware of the job tasks involved in the cybersecurity profession, compared to just 36 percent of young women, an increase from 33 percent last year
  • Globally, 37 percent of young adults (34 percent in the U.S.) are more likely than a year ago to consider a career to make the Internet safer, compared to 28 percent in 2015 (26 percent in the U.S.)

The survey has clarified some points that many young engineers have been aware of for some time - that there is a gap in knowledge about the cybersecurity field, a lack of skills for people to enter the field, and that women are underrepresented. This is true across many STEM fields, and it may take large scale public events like an election to draw attention to these issues before they can be fixed.

The survey was conducted across young adults aged 18 to 26, showing that tech savvy youngsters growing up with iPad in hand still may not be aware of the issues they’ll face online.

"Millennials see hacktivists breaking into computer systems and threatening our economy," said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon's Intelligence, Information and Services business.

"If we can show young men and women a clear path to careers in cybersecurity, we can make real progress in eliminating the serious cyber talent shortage and making our country more secure."

For more detail and analysis of the survey findings, please visit the company website to view reports.

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