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Survey: Growing Interest in Cyber Security Careers Among Millennials

An increasing number of millennials are considering careers in cyber security, primarily because of increased awareness of cyber security 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 cyber security 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," surveyed 3,779 adults aged 18 to 26, from 12 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The report attributes increased interest in cyber security careers to numerous factors, including initiatives designed to increase awareness of the profession, school cyber competitions, an increase in cyber security education, and news about cyberattacks and related political issues in the media. According to the report, a high-paying career as a cyber security 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 cyber security is increasing. Fifty-four percent of young men know what cyber security professionals do, compared to only 36 percent of young women. To close the gender gap in cyber security 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 cyber security 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 cyber security 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 cyber security 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 prepared statement. "As parents, leaders and educators we need to better communicate the opportunities in the cyber security field and help guide students to them."

The full report is available as a free, downloadable PDF from Raytheon's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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