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The rise in security breaches across the nation calls for a stronger focus on cybersecurity.  ITRC Data Breach Reports states that over 169 million personal records were exposed in 2015, stemming from 781 publicized breaches across the financial, business, education, government and healthcare sectors.

As hacking methods continually evolve, the cybersecurity sector is trying to keep up with ways to combat & prevent future attack.   A recent study published by the Atlantic Council and the Zurich Insurance group estimates that by 2030, cyber-attacks could cost up to $90 trillion if cybersecurity fails to advance.

According to the Peninsula Press’ analysis of numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 209,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S.  The Job Market Intelligence: Cybersecurity Jobs 2015 report by Burning Glass states that cybersecurity postings have jumped 91% from 2010-2014, resulting in the need for more cybersecurity experts.  Bureau of Labor Statistics project that there will be an additional 53% growth of cybersecurity jobs through 2018.

In an effort to keep up with the demand and ensure that the country is properly staffed and protected with educated cybersecurity specialists, the government and organizations around the country are using their funds and energy to gain the interest of the younger generation.

Out of all the extracurricular classes offered in high schools,  computer science classes seem to be the least popular.  According to the National Science Foundation, only 19% of U.S. high-school students enroll for computer science classes, coupled with the fact that only 29 states allow high school students to count computer science classes toward their graduation requirements, according to Inside Sources.

Programs and schools are now creating and extending cybersecurity programs for all grade levels, starting with elementary all the way through high school.  Specialists realize that  capturing student’s interest in cybersecurity at a young age can create an impact and influence future career choices.

This upcoming summer, the nonprofit Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association will host and run several cyber camps for elementary and middle school aged students.  Industry professionals who enrolled in the program will mentor middle and high school students after and during school during the 2016-17 school years.

U.S. colleges are aware of the need for greater cybersecurity education and now almost 200 schools are certified as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.

Students aren’t the only people who are gaining more exposure to the world of cybersecurity.  Programs like the Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) focus their attention on training and educating U.S. high school and middle school teachers about cybersecurity.  Similar to the need for cybersecurity educated CEO’s and Board Members, schools can only expect to create and encourage awareness and interest in cybersecurity among students if their teachers can engage and further the conversation.

The Department of Homeland Security gives grants to the Cyber Innovation Center to offer cybersecurity training, education and workshops to middle and high school teachers across the country.

Besides filling the future job opportunities, creating and encouraging an interest in cybersecurity to children at a young age can also help bring diversity to the cybersecurity field.  A little less than three quarter of U.S. workers in computer and mathematical occupations in 2013 were men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Exposing girls and students of color to cybersecurity through programs like STEM can increase their confidence and strengthen their desire to belong in the male dominated world of cybersecurity.

The lack of candidates for the cybersecurity job market is a current cause for concern, but future employers can expect an experienced and diverse group of cybersecurity technicians, engineers, analysts, technicians and much more.

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