Cybersecurity is an issue of ever-increasing importance in our modern world that no longer affects just a few. With recent high-profile security breaches at companies such as Facebook, the Dow Jones and FEMA filling the headlines, the general public’s interest and concern is growing. Even small- and medium-sized businesses are facing major risks if not properly staffed. In response, companies are looking to hire skilled cybersecurity talent to help keep them and their data safe. However, employers are running into a lack of available, trained professionals for hire, leading to large numbers of cybersecurity positions going unfilled for extended periods of time.
According to a recent Identity Theft Resource Center Report, the business sector experienced the largest increases in cybersecurity breaches in 2018. Data indicate less than half of all companies globally are ready for a cybersecurity attack. The fact that companies capture important consumer data for marketing purposes is exacerbating people’s concerns, making it even more important for companies to fill cybersecurity talent gaps. Customers are concerned for their own data and increasingly holding the companies they frequent accountable for the protection of their information. There is even a webpage designed for consumers to determine if their data has been compromised: www.haveibeenpwnd.com. The popularity of such sites demonstrates growing public concern and the potential of diminishing consumer trust if unresolved.
Cybersecurity in business is rapidly evolving. In previous decades, many companies did not consider cybersecurity a priority. As a result, they have historically chosen to assign cybersecurity to an individual in their firm who typically handles a range of technical tasks but may have little or no cybersecurity training. In today’s changing market, the traditional IT person may continue to wear many different hats, but business owners are waking up to the need to ensure the individual in charge of cybersecurity is adequately trained and qualified to safeguard the company from cyberattack.
Additionally, the rising need for employees at all levels to have basic information security training is leading to a call for more diverse and robust teams of cybersecurity professionals with expertise in every aspect of the organization. Traditionally under-represented groups such as non-IT professionals are now a major focus for growth, with a broader representation of the workforce with women, non-traditional students and minorities being recruited to this field. Cybersecurity is now everyone’s concern, which is why it is important and timely for TCC to prepare a workforce of multi-faceted individuals trained in cybersecurity to meet this marketplace need.
The jobs are there, awaiting qualified individuals to fill them. According to www.cyberseek.org, the DFW area currently has 12,000 cybersecurity job openings—a 60 percent greater concentration than the national average. There are 12,000 to 23,000 employed in cybersecurity in DFW currently, representing a 5.6 percent growth in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, there are 314,000 cybersecurity job openings with a zero-percent unemployment rate and a large number of job openings. These statistics add up to a major opportunity for anyone trained in cybersecurity.
As discussed by a panel of regional leaders on The DFW Cybersecurity Workforce in April 2019, this shortage is having an acute effect on the regional economy. Speakers from the industry reviewed the cybersecurity crisis from several angles. According to one speaker, “Issues affecting the shortage of talent in the cybersecurity field include generational differences, a changing business culture overall and the mentality of the industry that only a few companies need these people and only a few need these skills.”
Each member of the panel shared stories of need for cybersecurity talent. However, they also were optimistic that this problem can be resolved with targeted education and training. Panelists emphasized the need to shift the way of thinking in education and the workplace to view security as part of everyday existence.
Of the 12,000 area IT security positions currently open, some only require an associate degree or certificate. Other entities are seeking skilled individuals in traditional business roles who have a good understanding of how cybersecurity principles affect business. Two such jobs are cybersecurity analyst and vulnerability analyst. Others are seeking candidates with bachelor’s degrees and work experience. The question, however, often boils down to what talent employers are able to find available for hire. This shortage can present opportunities for skilled IT professionals seeking a new area of specialization as well as non-IT professionals seeking ways to add new skills to their résumés. There is particular demand for talent with combined business skills and cybersecurity skills.
During the Dallas April 2019 panel, attendees were encouraged to “just apply” and express interest. Nathan Howe, chief information security officer and adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Dallas, said that sometimes one can apply with limited experience and learn on the job. There is such a lack of qualified applicants that if one has the skills and integrity to do the job, the potential for being hired is there, with or without a four-year degree. Individuals who complete any level of cybersecurity-related degrees and certificates are at a strong advantage.
In her Forbes article, “New Collar Workers—Who are They and How are They Contributing to Our Labor Shortage?” Scholley Bubenik defines a new-collar worker as “an individual who develops the technical and soft skills needed to work in technology jobs through nontraditional education paths. These workers do not have a four-year degree from college. Instead, the new-collar worker is trained through community colleges, vocational schools, software boot camps, technical certification programs, high school technical education and on-the job apprentices and internships.”
According to their website, IBM states they are looking for new-collar workers, who they define as workers who share their values and ambitions, not necessarily those with a degree or a background in cybersecurity. They are openly seeking these workers, conducting a full recruiting program for these on their webpage.
How does TCC fit into this picture?
- TCC recently formed a Districtwide committee to optimize and grow its offerings in Cybersecurity.
- TCC offers a competitive program with an established reputation in the marketplace.
- TCC features two Associate of Applied Science degrees—in Cybersecurity and Convergence Technologies—Information Assurance as well as numerous certificates.
- TCC recently updated its Cybersecurity courses to meet emerging employer needs and the program is rapidly expanding on all campuses with a flexible schedule of classes both in-person and online.
- TCC is actively seeking opportunities to partner with regional employers to offer internships, apprenticeships and employment-while-in-school options for TCC Cybersecurity students.
The opportunity is here. TCC has the ability to fuel the regional economy and through the next decade, fill thousands of jobs in Tarrant County and across the State of Texas. The College also has the capacity to scale and meet the educational needs of students both at TCC and in conjunction with partner high schools and universities. Employers stand ready with high-paying jobs and career advancement opportunities.
For more information about TCC’s Cybersecurity program.