Business & Technology
The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 69/145 in 2014, declaring every July 15th as World Youth Skills Day. Among the motivations for the General Assembly establishing this day were concerns about the high number of young people worldwide who are neither employed nor being trained for a career. According to one UN report, a staggering 621 million young people aged 15-24 are not engaged in education, employment, or training.
Equipping young people with skills is vital because they are essential to the sustainability of our society. Indeed, the economic development of each country and each company depends on a constantly replenishing pool of trained human resources to remain strong, competitive, and prosperous. At the same time, failure to provide proper training and resources will have ongoing profound implications, not the least of which is lowering the living standards of future generations. As a global society, we must provide younger generations with decent work and career opportunities.
Within the cybersecurity industry, we have a unique opportunity to address the Youth Skills challenge by addressing the significant skills shortage we’re facing. There is currently a jobs gap of over 2.7 million cybersecurity professionals worldwide, impacting companies' ability to compete effectively in today’s digital marketplace. According to Fortinet’s 2022 Cybersecurity Skills Gap report, 80% of organizations have suffered at least one breach they attribute to a lack of cybersecurity skills or awareness.
While filling this gap may seem like an obvious way to help address the larger Youth Skills challenge, we have first to overcome the issue that most young people today don’t consider a career in cybersecurity. Most don’t even know it’s an option. Efforts must be made to increase awareness and/or change the perception of millennials and younger generations about cybersecurity as a career:
Current perceptions on cybersecurity must evolve. This can be achieved through a combined eﬀort of the cybersecurity industry, schools, government, and parents to actively encourage young people to consider cybersecurity careers. Educators and parents play a crucial role in advising young people on the advantages of a career in cybersecurity. Schools should also actively include cybersecurity fundamentals and their importance in protecting our digital world in their curriculum, beginning in elementary school. And given that we all rely on a digital society, governments should prioritize ensuring that every child has access to technology, including how to use it safely, to eliminate today’s growing digital divide.
At the same time, cybersecurity companies need to step up by promoting cybersecurity careers. Partnering with schools or community centers, for example, can give students a taste of a future as a cybersecurity professional. Working closely with universities is another way to effectively develop the talent pipeline needed in the cybersecurity space and encourage youth participation and development. But the most effective approach would be to raise awareness. Partnering with governments, the cybersecurity industry could create public service campaigns about cybersecurity fundamentals and career opportunities. And at the same time, they need to establish training programs to not only arm citizens with knowledge and skills but also whet the appetite for more among young people.
The Fortinet Training Institute is committed to achieving a sustained and measurable global impact by working to close the skills gap across diverse audiences. It provides a wide range of cybersecurity training and certifications, career growth resources, and hiring opportunities to make a career in cybersecurity attainable for all, including youth. These include:
Cybersecurity awareness is becoming as essential as looking both ways before crossing the street. We now live in a digital world in which protecting data and individual privacy has become a vital sustainability issue. Fortunately, there are currently millions of open jobs to fill, making this sector not only essential but attractive both financially and in terms of career evolution. And because cybersecurity, like technology, is constantly evolving, this field is also intellectually stimulating.
As our lives increasingly mesh with cyberspace, it affects how we work, live, learn, play, travel, shop, and socialize. In this emerging digital world, cybersecurity professionals will soon be as important as police officers, firefighters, or doctors, making a career in cybersecurity not only financially rewarding but essential to our global society.