How to close the cybersecurity and network engineering skills gap

A hacker strikes every 39 seconds on average in America, targeting business infrastructure, customers and individuals. What is at risk? Almost anything that works on a digital framework—medical records, bank transactions, and social security numbers—can be compromised or stolen.

There is a tangible need for IT engineers and cybersecurity analysts and yet 3.5 million cyber jobs were still unfilled at the end of 2021, enough to fill 50 NFL stadiums. Information technology is the second fastest growing career field in 2022 and by the end of the decade it is expected to grow by 22%, with more than 300,000 jobs still unfilled in the United States. This massive vacancy indicates the need for more trained talent in this field. space.

More than 50 billion devices are connected to the internet and more are connected every day. This extremely large attack surface is a growing problem. America’s networks are more vulnerable than ever, but its guardians are scarce.

The threat

Digital attacks are a problem for businesses of all sizes, but small businesses are disproportionately affected. More than half of all small businesses will experience a data breach; of the persons concerned, 60% will close their doors within six months. Those who survive will spend an average of $200,000 to repair the damage.

These varied attacks also negatively impact ordinary Americans, with one in three being affected by cyber breaches each year.

Stolen passwords or phishing emails may seem like minor inconveniences, but their implications can be serious. Through data breaches, cybercriminals can open and use new credit cards in their victim’s name, sell social security or credit card numbers on the dark web, or even hijack a victim’s airline miles.

America’s networks need digital saviors – skilled computer scientists who can support digital networks as they grow and evolve, create cybersecurity components that provide monitored and proactive threat management, and design defenses against the rapidly changing world of cybercrime – but many of these budding cyber professionals are missing one crucial element: training.

The glaring lack of skills

By 2025, it is expected that 85 million people will experience work disruption or relocation due to digitization. At the same time, more than 97 million jobs requiring new skills will be created, including positions in information technology, AI, machine learning and data science.

As the need for skilled cyber professionals grows exponentially, investors are putting their money where they say it should. In fact, global IT spending is expected to reach $4.5 trillion in 2022.

Funding these workers, however, also means providing a solution to the significant skills gap that many IT professionals currently face.

Enter EdTech.

Combining education with technology to boost training and help students develop quickly while maintaining the certifications and industry standards needed to succeed in their fields, EdTech can serve as a powerful mechanism for those looking to pivot in the workplace or for employers who want to provide team members with an accessible way to deepen their knowledge.

On vocational training

If you are already employed but want to improve your skills, or if you have a talented technical team in place but want to provide additional training opportunities to meet a specific need within your company, on-the-job training could offer the right mix of work and skill enhancement. This type of training can include mentoring relationships or job shadowing, cross-training with colleagues, or developing a strong internship program.

On-the-job training is also a great way to attract promising talent or break into a field with little experience. Simplify the search for these opportunities with a filtered search on job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn. Job seekers with management experience may find the Ladders search engine useful, while recent college graduates may prefer the Scouted platform.

For a more targeted approach, comb through Coaching the magazine’s Top 100 Training list, which recognizes organizations that provide highly sought-after training and development to their employees.

Pros: Build your resume while you learn

Disadvantage: Employee trainers can be ineffective

Paid training

Apprenticeship or residency can be a good choice if you are looking to qualify in a niche technology role. Apprentices are paid to learn and gain experience in a specific trade through a program that typically lasts one to six years and is often registered with a state or federal agency.

Explore to find approved paid training opportunities or try CareerOneStop, where you can search by occupation, school or program. The U.S. Department of Labor also offers Job Corps, a residential job training program for low-income applicants ages 16 to 24 that provides taxpayer-funded room and board, free health care, and a living allowance. . Job Corps students gain technical training in areas such as computer science and receive job placement assistance upon completion of the program.

Pros: Hands-on learning experience without student debt

Disadvantage: Competitive application process

Online skills training

The core skills of a cybersecurity professional begin with a foundation in network engineering, learning how to design and implement network configurations, as well as troubleshooting, improving, and monitoring the network activity. Online learning can increase job readiness or accelerate training by condensing training into months instead of years.

Access world-class online learning programs to find the right program for your interests and career goals, or take your skills to the next level with real-life case studies and military training.

Advantage: Flexible and Accelerated Learning

Disadvantage: Requires self-discipline and motivation

Choose the right creative approach

Choosing the right training option for you or your business means considering your unique needs, goals, and resources and getting started and looking for financial assistance. A government funded apprenticeship through Job Corps may be your best option. Hoping to increase your revenue with a new IT role? An online training program from NGT Academy could provide the tools needed to land that dream job in cybersecurity and network engineering.

The need for network engineering professionals and cybersecurity analysts is high, and the demand within the workforce is only increasing. Addressing this critical shortage and helping close the skills gap for workers wanting to enter the IT industry requires the will to take a creative approach to educating and equipping these essential workers.

In part two of this series, we’ll look at how these non-traditional education methods compare to conventional programs leading to a four-year college degree.

How do you think the next generation of IT professionals will be able to protect their networks? Share with us on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.


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