Excite, Inspire, Certify and Train

Excite, Inspire, Certify and Train

Four strategies to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals

AAUW Tech Trek campers show off their Cyber Scribbles coloring book full of engaging computer science activities

Year Up program participants

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Monday, October 15, 2018 - 8:35am

Today, hundreds of thousands of cyber security positions remain vacant around the world. Research estimates that by 2022, there will be a shortage of 1.8 million information security professionals (an increase of 20% from the 1.5 million shortfall forecasted in 2015).[I] At the same time, consumer demand for automated, connected and intelligent products is growing, as are the risks and resulting realities of increased cyber attacks. It’s more important than ever to focus on filling the growing cyber skills gap.

From raising awareness and getting children excited about STEM to training those looking for a new, fulfilling career, Symantec is deeply committed to working with partners to address the significant shortage of cybersecurity candidates and to help change the trajectory of the tech workforce — specifically for women, people of color and veterans. We work to address four key challenges across the workforce pipeline with the following activities:

1. Excite

We help nonprofits and educators raise awareness of the long-term career opportunities in cybersecurity and are working on closing both the skills and gender gap. Today, women hold only 19 percent of computing degrees, with women of color holding just 4 percent.[ii] Studies show the need for outreach and learning opportunities to get girls and young women, as well as their teachers and families, interested and excited about STEM and technology careers.

We partner with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to introduce girls to cybersecurity. In addition to supporting AAUW’s weeklong STEM summer camp program Tech Trek, we launched the STEMpack: Cyber Security curriculum to inspire and introduce middle-school girls to cybersecurity and computer science. The lessons are designed to be flexible depending on educators’ needs, with instruction and activities for students with varying degrees of prior knowledge. According to Christine Noyes, a cybersecurity instructor at AAUW who contributed to the curriculum, “By providing STEM education to young people, with a particular focus on girls, we are opening them up to an industry with well-paying and stable jobs, while promoting gender equity in the computing workforce.” The free curriculum is available online.

2. Recruit, Train and Certify

We recruit and train underserved populations into the field of cybersecurity. Launched in 2014 in partnership with the Symantec Foundation, the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (Symantec C3) is a collaborative effort that provides a pathway for underrepresented and under-resourced young adults and veterans – many of whom have not been exposed to this thriving field – to fill in-demand cybersecurity jobs and enjoy long-term, meaningful careers.

Working with leading educational development nonprofits including Year Up, Symantec C3 is creating a qualified and diverse talent pool to support a fast-growing industry. Scott Gullick, regional director of partner relations at Year Up, says the program helps connect companies looking for talent with capable youth looking for work. “With an increasing number of security breaches every year, companies need to hire more and more individuals, but not enough people have the skill sets for these open cybersecurity jobs. Year Up and the Symantec C3 program provide urban young adults with rigorous classroom-based training and relevant on the ground experience that prepares students for key certifications and for success in the workplace.”

3. Prepare for Jobs

Research shows that individuals without a college degree could fill a large percentage of vacant cybersecurity positions – creating a tremendous opportunity to train non-traditional candidates for these roles.

In addition to providing classroom training, we place Symantec C3 students in hands-on cybersecurity internships and other on-the-job learning opportunities for training in real-world challenges. Symantec C3 interns have been placed at 115+ leading companies, 20 percent of which are in the Fortune 500. These substantive internships and experiences prepare our students to step into vacant cybersecurity positions after graduation.

4. Launch Careers

David Bradbury, Symantec’s CSO, sees the importance of connecting Symantec C3 graduates to cybersecurity positions every day in his work. As the person tasked with building and running large security teams and delivering complex security improvement programs, David has seen first hand how long it can take to fill an open cybersecurity position. Official research shows it often takes six months or longer to fill cybersecurity roles[iii] and David supports Symantec’s efforts to build the workforce of the future. “Educating and training the next generation of cybersecurity employees is a business imperative at Symantec. The cybersecurity skills gap is a key risk to both our economy and global security, and Symantec’s efforts are helping to create a pipeline of qualified future leaders.”

The Symantec C3 program offers interview preparation and networking opportunities to help students launch careers. In FY18, 82 percent of Symantec C3 graduates were employed in cybersecurity or pursuing additional degrees within six months of graduation.

To learn more about how Symantec, AAUW, and Year Up are addressing the global cyber security workforce gap and inspiring students to seek highly fulfilling cyber security careers, join Symantec’s upcoming National Cybersecurity Awareness Month webinar.