An increasing number of millennials are considering careers in cybersecurity, primarily because of increased awareness of cybersecurity issues, according to a new report from Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance. But even this increased level of interest is not enough to close the cybersecurity gap, and the industry must make a sustained effort to attract new talent, especially women, who are underrepresented in the field.
The report, "Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap," attributes increased interest in cybersecurity careers to numerous factors, including initiatives designed to increase awareness of the profession, school cyber competitions, an increase in cybersecurity education, and news about cyberattacks and related political issues in the media. According to the report, a high-paying career as a cybersecurity professional requires skills millennials value, such as problem solving, analytical thinking and communication — and employment opportunities are available across a wide variety of sectors, including start-ups, government and hospitals. These factors are also helping to increase the career's appeal to millennials.
However, the gender gap in cybersecurity is increasing. Fifty-four percent of young men know what cybersecurity professionals do, compared to only 36 percent of young women. To close the gender gap in cybersecurity careers, more must be done to attract women to the field, according to the report.
Key findings from the report:
- 64 percent of young adults in the U.S. heard about cyberattacks in the news last year, up from 36 percent the previous year, and compared to 48 percent of young adults worldwide;
- 70 percent of millennials in the U.S. said cybersecurity programs or activities are available to them, up from 46 percent the previous year, and compared to 68 percent worldwide;
- 21 percent of young men expressed interest in cyber competitions, compared to 15 percent of women;
- 48 percent or respondents said more information about the specifics of cybersecurity jobs would help increase interest;
- 59 percent of young men and 51 percent of young women received formal cyber safety lessons in school, up from 43 percent and 40 percent respectively last year; and
- 40 percent of respondents said parents are the most influential people helping them with career advice, and 19 percent said no one was influential in helping them with career advice.
"When it comes to guidance for pursuing cybersecurity careers, young adults say parents are the most influential figure in shaping their career choices, but most millennials don't believe their parents are prepared to help them pursue a career in cyber security," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, in a statement. "As parents, leaders and educators we need to better communicate the opportunities in the cybersecurity field and help guide students to them."