A new study shows millennials are only marginally interested in cybersecurity careers, with 9% showing any interest at all. The study found that respondents are more interested in other technology areas such as video game development.
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As organizations struggle to fill cybersecurity vacancies, they aren’t finding many candidates among millennial jobseekers. A new study shows millennials are only marginally interested in cybersecurity careers, with 9 percent showing any interest at all.
The finding is troubling, considering millennials have become the largest percentage of the overall workforce. This generation, which has grown up with iPhones and YouTube is often viewed as an untapped source of talent for cybersecurity careers, but it’s clear they are not getting the message that they are needed.
The study of 524 technology-savvy millennials, conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group and sponsored by ProtectWise, found that respondents are more interested in other technology areas. Video game development, cited by 33 percent of respondents, tops the list. It’s worthy of note that 40 percent of study participants have been gamers for more than 10 years. In addition, 68 percent of respondents view themselves as either technology innovators (27 percent) or early adopters of technology (41 percent).
No Cybersecurity Connections
Despite their enthusiasm for technology, study participants don’t view cybersecurity as a career path. Most don’t know anyone in cybersecurity, with only 17 percent saying someone in their family has worked in the field. To put things in perspective, only four male study respondents “described their current job as being in the field of cybersecurity.”
And even though nearly half of respondents had been in a STEM program during their K-12 education, 68 percent had never taken a class in school about cybersecurity. “This is primarily because they never had a choice: 65 percent said that their schools never offered courses,” James Condon, director of the threat research team at ProtectWise, wrote in a blog.
The lack of cybersecurity schooling has had an impact, but it’s also clear the cybersecurity field is failing to reach millennials and draw them to cybersecurity careers. Luring them with on-the-job training is an option, especially since millennials generally welcome training and mentorship. (ISC)2 has found that organizational programs are very important to a sizable majority (65 percent) of millennials – and nearly half (46 percent) view mentorship programs also as very important.
Higher Interest Among Women
In what is unquestionably a silver lining, the study found young women are more attracted to cybersecurity careers than young men (57 vs. 40 percent). Women are grossly underrepresented in the cybersecurity field, making up only 11 percent of the workforce, so this interest among the younger generation is welcome and could signal the beginning of a reversal of the underrepresentation. “Female millennials may present the industry’s best chance to effectively overcome the security skills shortage,” says Condon.
Interestingly, despite their small numbers, women are happier in cybersecurity careers than men, as evidenced in a recent (ISC)2 study. Women showed higher levels of satisfaction in areas such as salary, work proximity to home and adherence to a strong code of ethics.
It’s clear the industry needs to become more aggressive in getting its message out and working with educational institutions to expand cybersecurity curricula.