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Cybersecurity Skills that Give Students a Competitive Edge

The first industrial revolution transformed education. Suddenly children from every socioeconomic status had free access to schools, not just wealthier families who could afford to have their kids away from the farm or factory for a day. 

As we enter the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), we again sit on the precipice of change. This time, it’s less about who’s attending classes and more about what they’re learning in them.

Now is the time for schools to update their curriculum to reflect the real-world realities of our tech-focused, security-susceptible society, so students can enter the job market with timely, transferable skills.

What you Risk by NOT Teaching Cybersecurity

Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 15-year high, reports multinational staffing firm ManpowerGroup. More specifically, the global shortage of cybersecurity workers has been steadily increasing in every region of the world but one with 2.72 million unfilled job openings as of October 2021.

Like it or not, stats like this tell us something about what students are learning in school – and what they’re not.

Within the next 10 years, the field of cybersecurity is expected to nearly double. But if educators and administrators don’t add cybersecurity to the lesson plans, the number of vacant jobs may double, too.

Cybersecurity Curriculum Components

Educators have a responsibility to prepare students for the opportunities ahead. These IBM-endorsed cybersecurity focus areas can help them develop the most career-ready skills for a variety of in-demand IT fields.

  • The Basics: Digital natives already have a strong technology foundation. But evolving cybersecurity threats involve more than creating strong passwords and initiating system updates. Show them the back end of how hackers are able to steal login information, infect an outdated device with spyware, or take down a company network using a ransomware link in a phishing email. Doing so creates a complete link between how to protect their own personal data now and create new security solutions for the future.

  • Data Science & Analytics: Data is often referred to as "the new oil." Raw and refined data is now that valuable. It’s what gives companies the insights they need to make informed decisions and generate future predictions about where to take their work. A firm understanding about how datasets work and how to make inferences based on what you see will be hugely important for current and future tech careers.

  • Recognizing Cyber Threats: Stats from Cybersecurity Ventures estimate that the damage costs of global cybercrime will hit $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. By the same year, the world will need to cyber protect 200 zettabytes of data. In other words, businesses across every industry, in every part of the world are going to be hiring to ward against increasing cyberattacks. The more experienced a student is in threat detection, the more of a company asset they’ll be.

  • Mobile User Experience: The number of smartphones is already in the billions. Soon, there will be more of them than humans on the planet. UI/UX design, particularly for mobile devices, impacts almost every aspect of a business. With the ability to incorporate AI, blockchain, and cloud features while creating a positive user experience, students will be unstoppable.

From artificial intelligence and quantum computing to biotechnology and nanotechnology, emerging tech is everywhere. But with expanding reliance on sophisticated tech comes increasing, sophisticated threats. This is the skills gap we must prepare for now, or risk students missing out on the opportunities of tomorrow.