A career in cybersecurity may not be the first choice for some information technology professionals, but a recent study has shown that despite a demonstrated skills gap within that particular industry sector, the generation most likely to benefit from open positions would prefer to focus on other careers where they may be finding less opportunities.
According to an online survey of 1,000 adults aged between 18 and 26 conducted by Zogby Analytics, it appears that less than 25 percent of Millennials would seriously consider taking a job within the cybersecurity industry, with 82 percent of those surveyed reporting that the option was never discussed by their high-school IT teachers or college guidance counselors.
Bearing in mind that cybersecurity has become increasingly prevalent in the IT sector within the last few years, it seems strange to think that most young people with an interest in STEM-related occupations would prefer to explore other avenues. In fact, when you consider the notion that most Millennials are more aware than most of their digital identity, it would seem to a natural path to follow for IT professionals.
Cybersecurity is quickly becoming a priority for not only companies across the country but also federal and state governments, with a demand for experienced professionals vastly exceeding supply. In fact, cybersecurity has been highlighted by the World Economic Forum as one industry sector that is expected to experience steady growth.
Bridging the talent gap
A recent article published in The Washington Post confirmed that employers are increasingly eager to acquire talent, with a number of companies apparently targeting recent IT graduates as potential cyber security professionals. According to the news source, salary levels are competitive, with studies showing that an annual wage of $116,000 is not uncommon and that the field is unlikely to be affected by an economic downturn.
So why are 75 percent of Millennials in the IT field – who have grown up in a world that relies heavily on technology – reportedly unwilling to consider cybersecurity as an IT career? According to USA Today, the majority of those surveyed saw cybersecurity as a "hard field to get into," a perception that thought leaders within the industry are naturally keen to dispel, because it's actually one of those areas with the highest need for specialized skills.
A lot of professionals with these specialized skills might not be looking at the bigger picture. According to Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, "The good news is it's not all technical. What they really need are well-rounded people who can problem-solve, work on a team and think outside the box – and a lot of those aren't just writing code. People may have a lot of these skills already and may not be thinking about a career."