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Less than one in ten youngsters interested in following a career in cyber security

New research has revealed that just one in ten millennials are interested in cyber security careers, even though a vast majority of them are looking at computer-related careers such as in video game development, engineering, computer sciences/software development, and scientific research.

Last year, research by Cybersecurity Ventures revealed that the total number of vacant cyber security jobs could touch 3.5 million worldwide by 2021, up from 1.4 million in 2017. This would not only be due to the projected lack of skilled cyber security professionals, but also because of a huge rise in demand for such professionals as well as a rise in cyber security budgets across sectors.

According to (ISC)2, an information security certification body, the overall cyber security skills shortage in Europe alone is expected to touch 350,000 workers by 2020.

“The combination of virtually non-existent unemployment, a shortage of workers, the expectation of high salaries, and high staff turnover that only increases among younger generations creates both a disincentive to invest in training and development and a conundrum for prospective employers of how to hire and retain talent in such an environment,” said (ISC)2.

A fresh survey of 524 technology-savvy millennials and post-millennials in the US carried out by ProtectWise has revealed that even though today’s millennials are attracted to careers in computer science and software development, not many of them are interested in having cyber security careers.

Such lack of interest comes at a time when a majority of businesses are planning on hiring CISOs, raising dedicated cyber security departments, and strengthening their cyber defences to comply with regulations such as GDPR and the NIS Directive.

Critical lack of awareness

According to the survey, there are several reasons why a majority of today’s youth are not interested in cyber security careers, and lack of awareness has turned out to the principle factor behind such lack of interest.

For instance, 69 percent of those surveyed said that they had never taken a class in school that focused on cyber security, and 65 percent said that their schools never offered courses on cyber security.

At the same time, 37 percent of youngsters said they didn’t know enough about the cyber security field, 28 percent didnt believe they had the required technical ability, 21 percent said they didn’t have the required education and 15 percent said they didn’t have the required number of certifications to become cyber security professionals.

“A necessary second step would be to increase the cybersecurity learning opportunities available to millennials and post-millennials. This lack of awareness and opportunity shortage is directly feeding the pending and future skills shortage. As a result, only nine percent of respondents initially indicated that cybersecurity is a career they are interested in pursuing at some point in their lives,” noted ProtectWise.

It added that such concerns of youngsters could be addressed by providing earlier exposure to information security learning opportunities. Less than a third of those surveyed said they were not interested in cyber security careers, which indicates that the opportunity to train youngsters is quite high.

More women in cyber security?

The survey also revealed that women could “present the industry’s best chance to effectively overcome the security skills shortage” based on their attitudes about careers in IT and cybersecurity.

ProtectWise noted that many young females are not technologically averse and indulge in online gaming as frequently as their male counterparts. In fact, females showed quicker and higher rates of adoption of some of the latest technologies such as virtual reality and more women than men have spent more time using the latest technologies.

It added that even though women are only slightly less likely to consider information technology professions as a most desirable career compared to men, they are more likely (57%) to find careers in cyber security more exciting than men (40%).

“Despite the previously noted gap between men and women’s plans for studying computing and engineering or planning a career in these fields, two computer-related careers held male and female interests nearly equally: video game development and cybersecurity,” it said.