Enable breadcrumbs token at /includes/pageheader.html.twig

Acknowledging the Realities of the Cyber Workforce

A career in cyber isn’t for everyone, which is why early education in the field is vital for national security.

The Department of Defense is failing to keep pace with current cyber domain demands, with a 25% vacancy rate across the department.  

Though recruiters often target science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students, panelists at the Homeland Security Conference proclaimed most everyday citizens can be trained in the field.

“I would argue that I can take anyone that has a passion and interest and good character and work ethic, and teach them the basic fundamentals of cybersecurity,” said Eric Scott, Information and Cybersecurity Department director at Georgia Tech Research Institute. 

Metro Atlanta Representative Sebastian Barron spoke on behalf of the office of Gov. Brian Kemp to inform conference attendees of the vast shortage in cyber professionals in the state of Georgia. Nevertheless, there are more than 1.2 million kids in K-12 in Georgia who could take over as the next generation of cyber professionals. 

“It is so important, in my opinion, that we need to start at the lowest levels with our children in cybersecurity,” Scott said.

Most of the Atlanta conference speakers affirmed the notion that the next World War will primarily target cyber domains, rather than physical locations. 

“So, then you have kids that are going to end up on one side or the other,” Scott added, emphasizing the need for stronger marketing of the cyber career field.  

Gaming is an opportunity to attract the younger generation. “It was really encouraging to see the Army Cyber Institute, they’re developing a game,” says Lt. Col. Robert Felicio, chief information officer for the North Carolina National Guard. “We need to think outside the box, be creative and approach our children with that method.” 

“I don’t think we do a good job of telling the story,” Felicio added, noting that his office is currently working on putting together marketing materials to help promote the cyber field.  “One of the interns I hired from Chapel Hill, she’s a historian; she’s going to capture the story for us and put together, from start to finish, how did we start this? Where are we today?” 

Military services continue to successfully recruit and retain soldiers, SightGain Inc., Founder and CEO Christian Sorensen said. “I’m not saying we make a 'Top Gun' movie for cyber, but gamification, going out and telling stories to high schoolers as a deliberate effort is important."

Eric R. Scott
I've acknowledged the realities of the cyber workforce because it's not a job for everyone.
Eric Scott
Director, Information and Cybersecurity Department, Georgia Tech Research Institute

The cyber field is prone to burnout, which is why communication and education from a young age is valuable. 

“We have to acknowledge the realities of the cyber workforce,” Scott stated. “We have been mission first, and we’ve got to stop that.” 

The hard truth of the cyber career field is that it’s not for everyone. Passion must be at the forefront of going after jobs within the domain, and leadership must take care of its cyber warriors. 

“It's not just in the cyber realm; DoD wise, there’s a suicide problem,” Sorensen added. COVID-19 triggered a rise in the nationwide mental health crisis, leading the panelists to remind their own teams to put family and health first. “It’s okay for them to take a break.” 

“If you take care of your people, your people are going to take care of you and accomplish the mission,” Scott told the audience. “That’s the bottom line.”

Enjoying The Cyber Edge?