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Developing the youth for careers in cybersecurity

BY :  Jason Jordaan | Principal Forensic Analyst • DFIRLABS (Pty) Ltd | @DFS_JasonJ | [email protected]

We hear constantly about how bad the cybersecurity situation is in the world and the threat that it poses to businesses. At the same time, we hear about how many vacancies there are in the cybersecurity field, and how we are unable to fill these positions with the right candidates. The problem is quite simple, especially in a South African context. Cybersecurity is a discipline that requires a certain aptitude in science and maths, and the sad reality is that we as a country are failing dismally in these areas, iIf we are not getting kids leaving high school with good marks in mathematics (not maths literacy) and science. Without these foundations, when they reach us in the business world, they simply are not able to cope, and if they end up in cybersecurity roles, they inevitably worsen the cybersecurity posture, rather than improve it. We as a business in South Africa often bear the brunt of the blame, saying that we do not invest enough in our people, but how can we invest in people that do not even have the most fundamental skills?

The best way that I can think of is making better use of our corporate social investment initiatives to actually focus on both primary and secondary school education, particularly in mathematics and science. How can we do that? Well, there are a few ideas. We could invite kids into our workplaces to show them the cool things that they can do with good grades in mathematics and science, give them something exciting to aim for, motivation if you will for why they should be interested in science and maths. Take the time to visit schools, especially in our disadvantaged areas, and volunteer time to run workshops for teachers and pupils, help them love science and mathematics. Show them how much fun they both can be and give them a vision of what they can achieve. Look at bursary programmes, not just for university studies, but for promising kids to send them to schools with great mathematics and science programmes.

While all of these are necessary for kids to have the core skills to be able to excel in cybersecurity roles in the future, and this is great for developing a potential pipeline to give the youth opportunities to fill the many vacancies, we also need to remember that these skills are useful in so many other disciplines, all of which are necessary for innovation and growth in our country.

Until next issue, stay safe, and remember the children are the future of our businesses.