Study: Millennials not encouraged to fill security workforce demand

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Study: Among those interested in careers in IT security, far more were young men than women.
Study: Among those interested in careers in IT security, far more were young men than women.

Only a meek showing of young people are being encouraged to pursue cyber security careers, a recent study on millennials' attitudes found.

According to the “Raytheon Millennial Cybersecurity Survey Report” (PDF) released on Tuesday, a staggering 82 percent of young people, aged 18 to 26, said that no high school teacher or guidance counselor ever mentioned to them career opportunities in the field.

The study, commissioned by Raytheon, a Waltham, Mass.-based defense and aerospace systems supplier, was fielded by research firm Zogby Analytics from Sept. 5 to Sept. 9, and consisted of responses from 1,000 young adults in the U.S.

In the report, only 24 percent of millennials said that they were interested in being a cyber security professional. In addition, a gap between young women and mens' interest in the career path was made evident in the findings.

Broken down by gender, 35 percent of young men said they were interested in security job opportunities, as opposed to 14 percent of young women respondents.

On Tuesday, Jordan Wiens, a cyber engineering lead at Raytheon, told SCMagazine.com in an interview that more needs to be done to prepare young people for jobs in the field – especially as demand in the workforce grows.

“I think colleges are a little late to the game, but high schools are very much behind as far as developing the types of cyber security skills we need in the government or private sector,” Wiens said, later adding that training needs to begin long before young people reach college.

“When they get to college, it's too late,” Wiens said. “I think they should be studying cyber security much earlier.”

In February, another study highlighted the industry's workforce issues.

"The 2013 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study,” (PDF) found that among 12,000 information security professionals polled in the last quarter of 2012, 56 percent of respondents said that their organization was in need of more security workers.

Despite the perceived shortage, the industry proved to offer attractions for potential workers, including a stable and financially rewarding work environment.

More than 80 percent of respondents reported that they had no change in employer over their past year on the job. Also, the average annual salary across all respondents was $92,835.

[An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the percentage gap between male and female respondents interested in security careers].  

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