There are more than 2.9 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally, according to a study by (ISC)2. And 59 percent of cybersecurity professionals surveyed for that study believe the widening talent gap put their organizations at risk. This shortfall has been discussed long enough that the tendency is to dismiss it with a “Yes, yes, we know about that.” And the gap gets bigger.
What can be done about this escalating issue? This large problem demands innovation, cooperation, and concerted effort from many areas. Governments, enterprises, and higher education institutions are working on both separate and joint initiatives to raise up the cybersecurity workforce needed to address serious threats to industry, commerce, and even critical infrastructure. But the question is, will these efforts be enough?
Helping to Fill the Gap
Securing the digital landscape around the world requires critical security technology innovation, coupled with the effective deployment, integration, and ongoing maintenance and optimization of these solutions. And every step of that process requires well-trained professionals who are committed to curbing the ever-expanding landscape of cybersecurity threats.
More and more organizations are stepping up to the plate and building programs that demonstrate their commitment to solving the global cybersecurity skills shortage by confronting the real issue: the talent gap. The mission of such programs is to identify individuals who have the aptitude, interest and ability to succeed as cybersecurity professionals.
Projects include funding training programs and resources in schools, establishing apprenticeship and mentoring programs, enabling workers who express an interest in the cyber security field, and working with diversity teams to fund training and scholarships for underrepresented groups such as women and minorities.
An additional basic method for closing the talent gap is helping to transition exceptional military veterans into the cybersecurity industry by providing professional networking, training, and mentoring. Cyberskills programs that work with vets are able to capitalize on the natural synergy between participating in a national defense unit in the Armed Services and defending critical information for businesses and government agencies. These programs provide benefits such as professional networking, training in the latest networking and security technologies, interview coaching, resume review and revision, and mentoring.
These programs begin by introducing veterans to the possibility of a career in the cybersecurity industry, combined with the promises of assistance with securing internships or employment. Such positions may be available at an enterprise hosting the program, with one of their key partners, or with companies that belong to a cooperative of regional or vertical organizations.
Transitioning to Cybersecurity
A graduate of Fortinet’s FortiVet Program, Jeff Crockett, is a five-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force. He is currently the Cyber Monitoring Network Defense Development Sr. Associate at Capital One. Crockett served in the United States Air Force as a Security Police Officer at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and in the United States Marine Corps as an Avionics Electrician.
As he prepared to leave the military, he participated in the Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Program. He then started searching for employment and discovered that there are a number of programs that help veterans like him transition into the cybersecurity field.
After reading an article about one of these programs, he contacted the program administrator. That administrator described the program and helped Crockett begin the application process. Crockett later explained, “I was very impressed with what I heard, as the program is set up really well to help veterans transition from a military culture to a civilian, commercial culture.”
Not all programs are the same, but Crockett found this program to be comprehensive. “There are a lot of programs out there, even for transitioning out of the military, but none had the breadth of services, nor the support and follow-up,” Crockett explained.
An effective program needs to cover every aspect of the transition, from skills training to the job search, including how to set up a LinkedIn profile, how to target certain jobs, and how to prepare for an interview — including everything from what kinds of questions the candidate will be asked to how they should dress for an interview.
Ideally, the entire process should be overseen by someone who has served in the military and understands the complexities and challenges veterans face when transitioning into the civilian sector.
A Successful Transition
Crockett saw rapid success. He started receiving e-mails from potential employers within days of entering the program and was soon interviewing with companies. A letter of recommendation from the program assured prospective employers that he had a tested and proven set of skills that had been verified by a leader in the cybersecurity industry.
Because of this rapid response and the overall quality of assistance he received, Crockett is convinced that his participation in this transition program helped him secure his current position at Capital One. He is now on the front lines of their Cyber Monitoring Defense Development project, researching and developing the solutions that will proactively protect and defend the Capital One network.
A Proactive Approach
Organizations today, both public and private, are coming up against two related problems: a rapidly expanding and complex threat landscape combined with a dearth of cybersecurity personnel. Rather than waiting for a solution to appear, proactive organizations are creating programs that add to the pool of cybersecurity know-how in general and can solve their own personnel needs in particular. This increases the speed of developing basic expertise in the field and start veterans on an in-demand career path.
Public and private organizations alike can join the movement to create education and training programs, which serves their needs and those of society at the same time. Best of all, it serves the men and women who have honorably served our country.
NOTE: For more information about the FortiVet Program offered by Fortinet click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jay Garcia has more than 17 years of experience in coaching, counseling, mentoring, human capital, consulting, and advising individuals and groups. His mission is to help veterans and transitioning service members figure out "what they want to be when they grow up" and show them how valuable their skills are in the cybersecurity industry.