Skills of tomorrow: youth on the cybersecurity job market

1 Dec 2022 12:35h - 14:05h

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Event report

This session looked at the current situation in the job market for cybersecurity graduates and whether the current education system has prepared youth with the skills employers are actually looking for.

The issues vary from one country to another. Some panellists noted barriers in terms of the lack of opportunities and the lack of educational programmes at universities for cybersecurity education. Another problem is that while some universities have cybersecurity programmes, they are too niche and often outdated. The curriculum is not modern enough to deal with real-world problems.

The IS3C Internet Standards, Security and Safety Coalition set up in IGF 2020 undertook a research project where they interviewed cybersecurity industry leaders in 16 different countries, supplemented by online research and a survey in over 65 countries. The interviews looked at existing levels of competencies, requirements, challenges, and best practices in cybersecurity. 

The research concluded that there are gaps in cybersecurity education. Women and youth are less attracted to it, although the overall interest in this area is high. The IS3C shared recommendations that include education and training should be less theoretical, greater collaboration between industry and education should be established, and a push for diversity by encouraging women and young people to join this sector should be made. To do so, recruitment procedures must be upgraded.

The IS3C plan to raise awareness in industry about the advantages of establishing a closer cooperation with education sector, developing better teaching programmes to promote cross-sector knowledge sharing, encouraging women’s education via capacity development programmes advanced with industry representatives, supporting the revision and update of education curricula, developing targeted teaching and learning resources, and setting up training programmes for the Global South. 

Many education programmes in the Global South focus more on the lucrative sectors in tech like AI and machine learning, thus the ones on cybersecurity may not be as sophisticated. In Africa, there is a challenge of finding experienced talent as the highly skilled prefer to work abroad. The industry needs to be more open to newcomers and invest time and resources in training them to build a healthy talent pipeline. Hiring processes need to evolve and look beyond mere qualifications. They should find ways to test the actual skills of the candidate.

Culturally, IT or cybersecurity jobs may not be highly regarded everywhere, but that sentiment is slowly changing. It is becoming increasingly apparent with the growing presence of tech in our lives; we also need good defenders aka cybersecurity professionals. The pay scale for these jobs need to be stable and prestigious enough for more people to be attracted compared to conventional careers like medicine, etc.

It is also good to expose young children and teenagers to coding boot camps, etc., so they adopt the right way of using tech and it is also a lucrative way to make money early on in their life if they want to.

In effect, there is a need to build a more holistic ecosystem where future cybersecurity professionals can be nurtured and there will be greater collaboration between government, academia, and the private sector to create a vibrant job market and a talent pool equipped to fit into this market. 

By Mili Semlani


The session in keywords

WS420 WORDCLOUD Skills of tomorrow youth on the cybersecurity job market IGF2022