Cyber jobs are available but Americans don't realize they are qualified

Cyber jobs are available but Americans don't realize they are qualified
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In today’s technology-driven economy, cyber-attacks have emerged as a major threat to businesses and governments around the world.

As America aims to drive the next wave of game-changing technologies such as artificial intelligence and the "internet of things," we must make it a national priority to strengthen our cyber workforce and bolster the security of our nation’s digital infrastructure. This starts by expanding the universe of those who see a career for themselves in the cybersecurity industry.

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There are nearly 300,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S today, and this number will increase significantly over the next five years.

 

The good news is that a positive trend is emerging for the talent pool of cybersecurity professionals. New CompTIA research shows that 51 percent of IT professionals are interested in working on cyber issues and 47 percent of prospective IT professionals want to work in cybersecurity to help protect users or companies from hackers. 

More and more job seekers recognize what is at stake and are eager to embrace an opportunity to work in the cybersecurity space. However, even with the heightened interest, there is still a mindset that is preventing our cyber workforce from unlocking its true potential.

Too many people think a cybersecurity career is not for them and that the barriers to entry in this industry are too high to overcome. This is particularly true among women and minorities, who are more likely to not have a role model in the cyber or tech workforce to emulate. 

While many cite a skills gap when examining the growing number of unfilled cyber jobs, not enough attention is being directed toward the confidence gap — where the lack of diversity in the tech industry is causing many to think that a tech or cybersecurity career is not for them.

The future of our nation’s security and global competitiveness depends on building a dynamic cyber workforce, and in turn, expanding the number of people who see themselves in a cybersecurity career.   

There are hundreds of thousands of cybersecurity jobs that need to be filled, including many entry-level positions that do not require a college degree. At the same time, there are millions of Americans out of work and worried about their future. So, the question becomes: How do we bridge the gap between people who are looking for a job in a transitioning economy and an industry that desperately needs more workers?

One way is through the advancement of recruitment and training programs. By helping individuals — whether they have a college degree or not — chart a pathway to a technology or cybersecurity career, we can help close the confidence gap and ensure that job seekers of all backgrounds know they have a career path waiting for them in these industries.

To maximize the strength and security of our nation’s cyber defenses, we need a diverse cyber workforce with the broadest perspective possible. There will be limitations if everyone working to build and innovate cyber technologies think alike.  

Our nation’s cyber workforce is a national security asset. Let’s unlock its potential by giving individuals of all backgrounds the confidence they need to pursue a role in the future of cybersecurity. 

Nancy Hammervik is executive vice president of Industry Relations at CompTIA.