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Millennials, Women May Bridge Cyber Talent Gap

Younger generations, particularly women, could be the answer to a cybersecurity skill shortage expected to reach 1.8 million unfilled roles by 2020.

A survey of millennials and post-millennials in the US gives some optimism about the cybersecurity talent gap, which seems doomed to worsen due to perception challenges about industry careers, poor access to early training, and unrealistic job requirements.

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) polled 524 millennials and post-millennials in the US to learn their perspectives on the skill shortage. Data shows 68% consider themselves either a tech innovator (27%) or early adopter (41%). Technology drives this generation's education choices: 48% were part of a STEM program during their K-12 years and 82% plan to attend college after high school. Of the college hopefuls, 23% plan to study computer science and technology.

Part of the challenge in getting young people into cybersecurity is making them aware of the field. Nearly 70% have never taken a security class in school, and 65% said their school never offered a security course. "Don't know enough about this field/career path" was the most popular reason cited among those who were not interested in cybersecurity. Other reasons for poor interest included a lack of technical aptitude and level of education required in security.

Researchers wanted to learn how women will play a role in cybersecurity's future, so they parsed their data according to respondents' gender. What they found at first seems discouraging. Twice as many men than women plan to study engineering in college, twice as many men will pursue computer science, and twice as many men are considering IT careers.

However, some key nuggets indicate women could change the game in security. Female respondents showed quicker and higher rates of adoption for new technologies, with 52% of women stating this compared with 42% of men. More women have advanced tech such as virtual reality in their households, and more women indicated they have spent time using (and would spend more time using) these technologies. Ten percent more women plan to enroll in college.

It's worth noting two tech-related career fields equally interest men and women: video game development and, yes, cybersecurity. Women are more excited by security than men, with 57% of female millennials expressing excitement compared with 40% of male millennials.

Read more details here.

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