How do we get Michigan youth excited about working in the field of cybersecurity in the age of mobility?
It’s an increasingly important question, says Elaina Farnsworth, CEO of The NEXT Education. By 2022, there will be two million jobs in the field of cybersecurity, and a big percentage of these jobs will be right here in the Detroit region. Across the country growth in the cybersecurity industry is a healthy 17 percent, but in Macomb County, for example, that growth is estimated to be nearly 155 percent, according to the Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Assurance Team (MADCAT).
“You look at vehicle systems, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-vehicle--how do we protect this data that’s going back and forth?” Farnsworth asks. “You need someone to protect it.”
How we fill that talent pipeline is a multi-pronged response. One way is to offer training to those already in the workforce. Cybersecurity isn’t limited to IT professionals. An electrician with a cybersecurity certification is more attractive than one without.
Another answer is getting today’s students excited about a future in cybersecurity. NEXT, along with GRIMM, GRIDSMART Technologies, MADCAT, and NXP have partnered on the Global Future Workforce Program to do just that.
At this year’s Auto-ISAC Annual Summit in Detroit, the Global Future Workforce Program gathered 38 high school, community college, and university students to showcase their work in front of leading industry professionals. As a result, select students were offered internships with top companies. One high school student was even offered a contract for employment right on the spot.
The program featured in-vehicle and infrastructure cyber testing, career pathway illustrations, and certification-based training reviews. Students got the chance to speak one-on-one with leading companies in the field.
The need for future workers will only grow. As automobiles become increasingly reliant on the sharing of data, it becomes more and more important to protect that data.
“When you think of the eventual workforce we’ll need, it’s mind-boggling,” Farnsworth says. “The more the merrier.”