We live in a digital era driven by computers, big data, algorithms and artificial intelligence that’s getting more and more intelligent. These technologies were once only science fiction fantasies. Now, they are all around us – transforming our society and how we live, communicate and play.

They have presented us with new challenges that we can’t afford to ignore. The future of the cyber security workforce, as well as our personal information and national security hang in the balance.

After all, these smart devices make our lives easier, but they are smart in more ways than one: They know a lot about us. They are portals to our lives and our sensitive personal information. All it takes is for a person behind a computer screen to compromise everything from our personal banking information or social security number – or even take down our nation’s power grids and critical infrastructure.

Cyber crime is escalating

There isn’t an industry or sector – or person, for that matter – that’s immune to cyber attacks. Last year was marked as the worst year ever in cyber attacks and data breaches – with attacks nearly doubling from 82,000 in 2016 to 159,700 in 2017. Estimates put the future value of cyber crime at over 6 trillion globally by the time we enter the next decade. Companies are now recognising that investment in security is critical – making cyber security one of the fastest growing fields of our time.

Yet this rapidly changing, fast-growing sector presents a new problem, too – cyber security is suffering from a challenging skills gap that has caused a global shortage of professionals.

Skills gap dominating the conversations

For far too long the skills gap has dominated conversations between higher education and industry. In fact, a recent study shows that the number of companies reporting problematic shortages in the cyber security skills of their staff has increased to more than 50%.

One thing is clear: To fill this need, our higher educational institutions, industry and government agencies must work together. If what we are doing is not working for our students – or the good of society – it’s time to rethink education and how we prepare students.

Higher education – in partnership with primary and secondary educational institutions and industry – must quickly find ways to prepare and move talent into the workforce.

The future is not somewhere we’re going. It’s something we actively create – and it’s our shared responsibility to work together for the greater good in the 21st century.

Source: Miami Herald