According to reports from Bloombergthere could be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2025 if there are no solutions to close inclusion gaps and help retain employees.
The “Recruitment, Retention and Advancement” panel of Computer World CanadaThe Top Women in Cyber Security event focused on how to solve the worker shortage in the sector, close the inclusion gap and find solutions to help more women enter the field .
Panel moderator Kathie Miley, vice president of security sales for the Americas at VMware, revealed that with more online activity, an increase in online fraud and a massive influx of students placed in online education, companies are facing major hurdles as they attempt to grow their cyber workforce.
Rushmi Hasham, director of cybersecurity development and accelerated training programs at Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst at Metropolitan University of Toronto (formerly Ryerson University), explained who is specifically lacking in the cybersecurity profession, based on a business study.
The study showed that women are underrepresented, as well as new Canadians. She said many new Canadians arrive with great technical skills they learned in their home country, but struggle to find opportunities here in Canada. Additionally, Hasham noted that people who have recently been displaced due to job loss during the pandemic are also an underrepresented group.
The university ended up working with government and partners such as RBC, Rogers Communications and the City of Brampton to address the talent gap.
“We have to lower the threshold and create opportunities. We must lower the barriers of the economy, by creating affordable programs. Make sure the programming is not intimidating as a two to four year program to pivot into a new career, to speed up training and speed up time to employment. It’s a national imperative,” Hasham said.
She noted that if we don’t have enough people working in the sector, it can create vulnerability for schools, communities, governments and the economy.
Panelists also spoke about the inclusion gap, focusing on pay equity and the changes the industry needs to make to be more inclusive.
Katherine Isaac, VP of Customer Success at Carbide, said in her personal experience when she went on maternity leave that she found it difficult to keep up with her job due to the hectic nature of the tech industry.
“Things are changing so quickly in the industry we’re in. Taking a year off makes it almost impossible to come back,” Isaac said.
To help address this issue, Isaac suggested “back to work” programs for women who take time off to care for their families. The program would focus on covering last year’s gaps.
“We can help women stay in the workforce, especially in areas like cybersecurity, so they don’t feel like they have to make a choice. Career or family, we shouldn’t have to make that choice in 2022,” she said.
She also pointed to the pay gap issue that some women face in the tech industry.
“You have companies thinking, ‘well, we can spend less if we hire a woman in this role,'” she said. “So we are creating opportunities for women by paying them less… We definitely want to see that gap closed as well. We want opportunities and we want pay equity at the same time.
Finally, Hasham and Isaac talked about the importance of encouraging young girls to get into cybersecurity and how organizations can market cybersecurity as an attractive career.
Hasham said that because cybersecurity is a relatively new field, parents don’t understand that cybersecurity can be a big profession, and so a career in it isn’t often suggested.
“For many parents who aren’t exposed to technology or what cyber professionals are doing, it’s hard to guide or coach your young daughter in choosing this path,” she said.
Hasham noted that to really get young girls interested in cybersecurity professions, teachers need to encourage it and curricula need to be put in place in schools. She said it takes work to show that cybersecurity is a creative and collaborative profession.