Youth interest in IT security careers grows but schools letting them down: survey

One in four young adults is interested in a career in cybersecurity, a new survey has found, but two-thirds said their high schools weren't providing appropriate teaching to foster their entry into a market that is growing 3.5 faster than the overall IT job market.

The Millennials Cyber Survey, commissioned by Raytheon in conjunction with the US-based National Cyber Security Alliance, found that 41 percent of millennials had received advice about IT security related careers over the previous year, compared with just 18 percent in the survey a year earlier.

Nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents said they were more interested today in careers that “involve making the Internet safer and more secure”. Asked what career they would like to have, 35 percent of surveyed millennials said they were interested in being an app designer or developer – the most popular career – while 26 percent said they would like to be a cybersecurity professional.

This was the same percentage that said they would like to have a career as a doctor, nurse, or lawyer.

While they have broad interest in the idea of cybersecurity careers, however, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they don't know what is involved in the profession. And fully 64 percent said their school had not offered the appropriate teaching or exposure to cybersecurity concepts that would be necessary to lay the groundwork for such a career.

“This study shows that despite the fact that more students are generally interested in pursuing related careers, they often lack the needed skills and encouragement that our educators should be providing to grow the talent pipeline,” Jack Harrington, vice president of Cybersecurity and Special Missions for Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business, said in a statement.

“There is a clear opportunity to help close the gap between the demand and supply for cyber security talent with more counselling, training, and collaboration between our high school educators and the private sector.”

The survey also asked respondents what sort of information would increase their interest in cybersecurity, with more information about the job named by 48 percent of respondents. Fully 40 percent said they would be interested in more relevant classes or training to see if they would be good at a cybersecurity career, while 34 percent wanted reassurances that they would earn a good living.

Some 29 percent would welcome the opportunity to speak with current professionals about the pros and cons of the career, while 12 percent said they would be influenced by whether their friends thought cybersecurity was a “cool” career.

Conducted by Zogby Analytics in late August, the surveyinvolved 1000 US adults aged 18 to 26.

The results reflect the growing gap between supply and demand in the IT security market, which a recent study by analytics firm Burning Glass International found is growing 12 times faster than the overall job market and 3.5 times faster than the IT job market.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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