Political Positions On Cybersecurity Matter To Millennials

New study on millennials and cybersecurity points to a growing awareness of the field, an interest in pursuing careers in security, and the influence of cybersecurity in politics.

Politicians of all stripes take notice: ignoring cyber issues could derail your career.

A new study released today by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that 53 percent of U.S. millennials surveyed say that a candidate’s position on cybersecurity will impact their level of support for that candidate. Another 50 percent say cybersecurity has not been discussed enough during the current election.

The research, Securing our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap, was released during the second week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The study was sponsored for the fourth year by Raytheon and NCSA and was conducted by Zogby Analytics.

Responses were generated from a survey of 3,779 adults ages 18-26 in 12 countries: Australia, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Valecia Maclin, program director in cyber security for Raytheon, says along with being more of a political issue among millennials, the industry’s ongoing effort to raise awareness about security combined with the frequent news about cyberattacks has made young adults globally more aware about security jobs.

“There’s no question that there’s more awareness this year about cybersecurity jobs,” Maclin says, adding that Cisco released research earlier this year that there are 1 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally.

The campaign to improve awareness about cybersecurity and the job shortage has been effective, as the number of millennials globally who said they were aware of what a cyber pro’s job entails rose from 39% last year to 45% in 2016.

Unfortunately, the gap between the genders widened by five points, with 54% of young men saying they understood the profession compared to just 36% among young women.

There was also a gender gap in terms of teachers in the high schools approaching young men and women about careers in cybersecurity. Just 40% of young men were approached by teachers about cybersecurity careers, while only 28% of young women report being approached by a teacher about a career in cybersecurity.

Maclin said there are many things the government, companies and non-profits can do to more effectively to encourage cybersecurity careers. For starters, she said the annual research by Raytheon and the NCSA helps the industry better understand the scope of the problem and track progress.

Cyber competitions are also important. Raytheon sponsors its annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, in which 200 colleges participate in live gaming events. Maclin said the competitions expose the students to cyber professionals and some of the students even walk away with job offers.

“It’s really important for students to get exposed to cyber professionals,” says the NCSA’s Michael Kaiser. “People know what doctors, lawyers and scientists do, but they are not always aware of the wide scope of the different jobs in cybersecurity.”

To counteract the gender gap, Maclin adds that Raytheon sponsors a scholarship for women in tandem with (ISC)2. The company also co-sponsors a summer camp for girls in partnership with Brigham Young University.

“We’re trying to create a climate similar to what John F. Kennedy did in challenging the country to go to the moon,” she says. “JFK’s plea to the nation led to a great interest in science and aerospace careers. Our recent efforts to promote careers in cybersecurity will be especially important for this generation as the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent. They need to see they can have a future in securing the devices they use every day.”

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Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

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