“Research from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education predicts that the cyber security skills gap will increase to 1.8 million unfilled jobs by 2022…”

Research from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education predicts that the cyber security skills gap will increase to 1.8 million unfilled jobs by 2022, which represents a 20% increase over the forecast made in 2015. According to the report, the greatest reasons for worker shortages include difficulty finding and retaining qualified personnel, leadership not understanding requirements, lack of resources, and a lack of information regarding the cyber security career path.

Cyber Security Skills Gap Is a Threat to Everyone

While the demand for cyber security skills grows, the supply of qualified talent is also dwindling, with traditional educational institutions failing to equip graduates for the workforce. And, to make matters worse, the current workforce is aging and failing to update their skills to keep up. On the surface level, the cyber security skills gap doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. High demand and low supply is good news for wages, after all. Cyber Security, however, is not just any other career; it’s a matter of global, national, and personal safety.

Out of all the tech-related fields, the skills gap in the field of Cyber Security poses the greatest risk to everyone. Without a sufficient supply of Cyber Security professionals, businesses, governments, and individuals become more exposed to hackers and criminals who seek to steal our valuable information. As a result, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that by 2021, the number of total damages worldwide will amount to $6 trillion annually. Currently, lawmakers, businesses, and educational institutions are all scrambling to find a way to close the cyber security skills gap.

Cyber Ready Lawmakers

On May 15 of last year, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev) introduced the Cyber Ready Workforce Act in the Senate, which sought to invest more money in cyber security apprenticeship programs. This bill had bipartisan support in the House and Senate and would have increased the number of grants that the Department of Labor could give to Cyber Security training.

Representative Susie Lee, a fellow Nevada Democrat, also introduced a similar bill in the House and gained the support of three Republicans and ten Democrats. Unfortunately, neither Lee’s nor Rosen’s bills have advanced. Since the introduction of the Cyber Ready Workforce Act, little has been done in the area of lawmaking to solve the cyber security skills gap. Therefore, businesses and educational institutions have had to pick up the slack and do their best to solve the gap on their own.

Business Talent Pipeline

Some businesses like MasterCard and Microsoft are trying to fill the Cyber Security gap by partnering with government institutions like the FBI and CIA. The “Cybersecurity Talent Initiative” would be the first public-private partnership focused on recruiting the best and brightest in Cyber Security. This new initiative calls on companies, educational institutions, and federal agencies to join together to improve the talent pipeline. Proponents of the initiative argue that raising up the next generation of cyber security professionals will help protect our nation and the digital economy.

Large IT firms, such as Cisco, are also investing tens of millions of dollars in training programs that offer courses, mentoring, and certification in Cyber-Ops. However, most businesses don’t have the same budget as Cisco to produce work-ready cyber security professionals. Instead, small-to-medium-sized business (SMBs) rely on training programs from third-party providers like Woz Enterprise.

Higher Educational Institutions

McAfee’s 2016 “Cybersecurity Skills Report” showed that at the time, only 7% of the top universities in the world offered an undergraduate degree in Cyber Security. Additionally, only one-third of surveyed universities offered a masters degree program. This should come as a wake-up call to higher education institutions, considering that one of their main purposes is to prepare students for the future workplace.

As a result, educational institutions are attempting to solve the skills gap by offering new degree programs in cyber security on campus and online. Many universities are also building labs to teach students how to fight off hacking attempts and malicious cyber attacks. These labs—also known as cyber ranges—are designed to help students become “ethical hackers,” who use hacking skills for good. This kind of training is great for preparing students for vulnerability analyst and penetration tester positions in cyber security.

“Powered by Woz U” Partners

Powered by Woz U” universities like Belhaven University, Southern Careers Institute, and the University of the Potomac are all teaming up with Woz U to provide state-of-the-art Cyber Security training to their students. Alongside a traditional 4-year degree program in Cyber Security, students at participating universities can get access to Woz U coursework for life. Additionally, we offer coursework in Data Science and Software Development.

Offering lifetime access to updated curriculum ensures that graduates stay up-to-date with their cyber security skills and maintain the upper hand against hackers and cyber criminals. Of course, this not only benefits “Powered by Woz U” students but also all members of society. With a greater pool of qualified cyber security experts in the workforce, we’ll be able to reduce the cyber security skills gap. And, all of our digital information will be safer and further protected from hacking attempts.