The Future of Cybersecurity Depends on STEM Education

The cybersecurity industry relies on dedicated people with a specialized skill set. These skills are typically learned as part of a comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Without a strong STEM educational program, the cybersecurity industry will be unable to fill all of the positions set to develop over the next several years.

Why STEM Education is Important

STEM represents a cross-disciplinary approach to education. In a STEM program, students take classes that integrate across all four of these areas, then apply what they learn in real-world projects.

STEM education today starts at the elementary school level. Thousands of elementary, middle, and high schools across the country are designated as STEM schools, which means they focus on these four areas, in addition to traditional liberal arts topics. Sometimes, STEM programs are augmented with other disciplines, such as STEAM programs that add a focus on the Arts.

One of the goals of STEM education is to better prepare young people for careers in the technology industry. According to the National Science Foundation, students need a strong grounding in STEM to thrive in today’s information-driven age.

The skills learned in STEM education are the same skills required for a career in cybersecurity. STEM skills are also useful for many other science- and technology-driven careers, as well as other jobs that require familiarity with technology.

How STEM Education Benefits Cybersecurity

Educating more Americans in STEM offers several important benefits to the cybersecurity industry. Here are three of the chief benefits:

Fill a Growing Shortage of Cybersecurity Workers

Virtually every cybersecurity-related position requires STEM-related skills, yet our education system isn’t turning out enough students with a STEM-based education. The result is a shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers; in fact, it’s predicted that 3.5 million cybersecurity positions will remain unfilled in 2021. To keep from falling behind, the cybersecurity industry desperately needs more students equipped with STEM education.

While STEM education at the elementary and secondary levels tends to be more general in nature, many universities offer STEM majors in cybersecurity-related disciplines. Even if students don’t choose a cybersecurity major, they can still pursue a computer science degree with a concentration in cybersecurity. Either approach will prepare the student to join the cybersecurity workforce directly upon graduation.

Enhance Cybersecurity in the Workplace

STEM education is more than just vocational training. It can also help drive awareness of cybersecurity in all business and government workers.

As the threats of cyber attacks, cyber espionage, and cyber terrorism continue to grow, cybersecurity must keep pace. This requires employees at all levels to be more aware of cybersecurity – which can come from a solid STEM background.

Students who work through a STEM curriculum gain the knowledge and skills necessary to protect against all sorts of cyber threats. In their studies, they have mastered a variety of technologies and how to use them safely. Even if a STEM student chooses not to go into a cybersecurity career, they still have learned enough to be cyber aware and enhance any organization’s security profile.

Grow the Bottom Line – and the Economy

The more familiar a workforce is in cybersecurity concepts, the more diligent it will be in defending against cyber attacks and intrusions.

As more workers with STEM-based skills enter the workforce, businesses and other organizations are likely to see fewer successful cyber attacks and experience less economic damage from those attacks. By reducing the risk and impact of these cyber threats, businesses should see less impact on their profits, which should help bolster the economy in general. A smarter and more skilled cyber workforce is the best defense against the business and economic impacts of cyber attackers.

How to Promote STEM Education and Cybersecurity

To promote STEM education for the cybersecurity industry, it’s important to recognize the importance of STEM education to society in general and the cybersecurity industry in particular. The benefits of a STEM education go well beyond just filling much-needed cybersecurity jobs; STEM education also improves security awareness and technological skills throughout the organization.

With this in mind, the first step is to support STEM education efforts in your local elementary and secondary schools. This may include supporting your school district’s funding measures for STEM education or individually volunteering to tutor local STEM students.

Many companies have partnered with STEM schools in special programs and projects that promote cybersecurity and other computer-related topics. Larger companies can offer scholarships to students who wish to pursue STEM at the college level.

The whole point is to support STEM learning today to help create a technologically smarter and more secure workforce in the future.

Wickr: Supporting STEM Education and Cybersecurity

Wickr has long supported STEM education. Recently, Wickr began partnering with the Military Cyber Professionals Association (MCPA) to promote STEM education – and ensure a bright future for cybersecurity in our society.

Contact us today to learn more about how Wickr supports cybersecurity education.