A new survey shows that not only are the majority of Americans concerned about cybersecurity threats, but many are willing to consider returning to college to pursue a cybersecurity education – especially if their employer pays for it.
The State of the Cybersecurity Workforce and Higher Education survey, conducted through Engine Insight’s Online CARAVAN omnibus, asked US adults ages 18 and up for their opinions on and awareness of the cybersecurity field, as well as the role that higher education plays in it.
Of the 1,004 adults surveyed, 41 percent said they would probably or definitely consider returning to college to earn a certificate or degree to prepare for a cybersecurity job.
However, willingness rose to 72 percent if current employers were willing to pay for respondents’ education in preparation for an in-house cybersecurity job. Those respondents most willing to consider pursuing an employer-funded cyber education were between the ages of 35 and 44.
“These findings are great news for employers seeking to address the cyber skills gap within their organizations yet facing recruitment challenges,” said Melissa Marcello, associate vice president at Champlain College Online. “Our survey shows that employers have a ready and willing pool of future cyber experts within their current workforce, if they’re willing to provide the resources and support to upskill and train them.”
Other key findings from Champlain’s survey:
- Overall, 88 percent of surveyed adults said they were very or somewhat concerned about cybersecurity threats impacting them personally, with older respondents showing greater concern than younger ones. A full 50 percent of respondents ages 54 to 72 said they were “very concerned” about such threats.
- 68 percent of respondents were confident in colleges and universities’ abilities to create solutions that address cyber threats-nearly as confident as they were in the private sector and significantly more confident than they were in the government.
- When presented with various roles that colleges and universities could play in reducing cyber threats and improving information security, 90 percent of respondents felt that higher education institutions should ensure all college students-regardless of major-have a basic cybersecurity education.
- Feeling that it was too late to consider a career change was the primary reason identified by respondents for not considering returning to college to prepare for a cybersecurity job. About one-fifth (22 percent) of respondents felt that way, including many younger respondents in prime career-changing years.
- Women (13 percent) were significantly more likely than men (6 percent) to say they didn’t think they had what it takes to be successful in a technical field.
- An overwhelming majority of respondents – 85 percent – believed that more should be done to encourage women to enter the cybersecurity field. Perhaps surprisingly, respondents age 65 or over were significantly more likely (94 percent) to feel this way than any other age group.
“Cybersecurity is crucial to so many industries that it’s vital for everyone, regardless of gender, age or career field, to have at least a baseline understanding of cyber principles,” said Kathleen Hyde, chair of cybersecurity programs at Champlain College Online. “For those seeking more, like career changers, nearly everyone is an ideal candidate for a cybersecurity degree or certificate program because of the vast landscape.”
Champlain College Online fielded its online cybersecurity survey from June 21-24, 2018, with a randomized, nationally representative sample of 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 and above.