Cybersecurity and the millennial workforce

November 13, 2015 Arctic Wolf Networks

Millennials belong to a group that is uniquely qualified to learn and deploy the cybersecurity skills of today. That’s because the primary characterizing feature of millennials is that they’re the first generation to grow up with cyber literacy. For the many people in this demographic, tech aptitude isn’t an acquired skill – it’s innate.

These days, the time has come for businesses across industries to ensure they have a solid cybersecurity staff. And it’s no surprise that when it comes to finding staffers to fill these roles, they’re looking to younger people.

The Gen Y cyber outreach effort

“Companies need cybersecurity workers – and they’re looking to young people to fill these roles.”

If millennials are finding it hard to secure jobs right out of college, perhaps it’s because they’re not looking in all the right places. After all, according to an industry forecast, over the next five years there will be a global workforce shortfall of 1.5 million in the information security sector. A million and a half jobs that aren’t filled – what other industry can make that kind of claim?

Money is certainly not what’s holding young people back from pursuing cybersecurity jobs. After all, the average annual salary of a data security analyst sits between $89,000 and $121,500 – a large amount by any standard, and certainly a massive chunk of change for someone coming out of college and into the industry.

But while data security-based jobs may be very well-compensated, the particular nature of the work involved isn’t being as well-publicized. As InformationWeek’s Kelly Jackson Higgins pointed out, “lack of awareness about what cybersecurity jobs entail” is one of they key factors holding millennials – particularly women – back from cybersecurity careers.

In this particular field, the gender gap in terms of awareness is especially pronounced: As a survey of 18 to 26-year-olds worldwide, the results revealed that while around half of the men surveyed knew what a cybersecurity job entailed, that awareness level was only at around 33 percent for the female respondents.

The gender-based cybersecurity job awareness gap must be closed through better and more tailored cybersecurity educational outreach. Beyond that, overall awareness of what a cybersecurity job calls for is also necessary, since, as the survey uncovered, “Millennials would likely pursue a cybersecurity career if they are aware of what the job entails.”

With the cybersecurity sector headed toward a workforce shortfall, it’s time to ramp up efforts to better secure millennials the cyber-based roles in which they’ll flourish. For companies, the incentive to do this is particularly high, since a well-trained cyber staffer can play a vital role in preventing a malicious intrusion.

Cybersecurity news and analysis brought to you by Arctic Wolf, leading provider of managed SIEM services. Managed SIEM, when your firewall fails.

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