August 10, 2016 By Laurie Gibbett 2 min read

Millennials are not known for their security advocacy. In fact, 97 percent of them are connected to the internet and many utilize unsecure cloud-based tools to help complete tasks. However, they have grown up in the cybersecurity era and are inclined to make risk-based decisions and share valuable information online for the sake of convenience.

Millennials Are the Future, Not the Problem

It is critical that we encourage millennials to work in security since there is a lot we can learn from a new generation of IT users. To stay ahead of the game in security, companies must think like cybercriminals. Millennials and cybercriminals share many key qualities that make them vital to the security workforce: They’re tech savvy, they collaborate and they’re curious.

Huge data breaches and the industry’s increasing skills gap have thrust cybersecurity into the spotlight. Still, according to a Raytheon study, 46 percent of millennials are unaware of the skills needed to enter the security workforce.

Empty Seats to Fill

It may seem prudent for organizations to employ more experienced professionals, but they are sparse and in high demand. Could millennials fill the empty seats?

Students are exposed to computers in the classroom from a young age, so getting young professionals interested in IT is not the challenge. Enabling them to pursue cybersecurity careers is more difficult, because it requires the industry to push out more relevant education. Millennials aren’t chasing cybersecurity careers, perhaps due to the high level of IT literacy needed for computer science degrees or a lack of awareness of the security jobs available in what can still be considered a niche industry.

Organizations must invest in training people with the right skills early on. Government institutions understand the importance of developing this kind of talent in terms of the future of national security. The U.K., for instance, introduced a computing curriculum to equip young people with the skills needed to start a career in security.

The Long Haul

Millennial talent is needed to protect this increasingly connected world. But organizations shouldn’t just target this generation in the short term; it’s important to share knowledge to develop skills for the long haul. Millennials must be educated about the career paths available to them.

With organizations sponsoring security competitions and education programs, a talented workforce can be built to strengthen national security. Once enthusiastic and ambitious employees are on the team, encourage them to stay by cultivating their professional growth and maintaining an attractive working environment. PwC found that training and development, flexible working hours and financial rewards are the top benefits millennials value most from an employer.

As the sector struggles to fill positions, the ability to attract and retain millennial talent is a vital step toward achieving long-term success in security.

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