Just as we think we are starting to get a handle on Millennials in the workforce, a new generation is changing the game. Enter Gen Z.

The oldest members of Gen Z (those born after 1996) are hitting 21 and 22 years old and thus, entering the workforce. And the industry that is hungry to have them? Cybersecurity.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are half a million cybersecurity-related job openings in the United States and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for 1.8 million additional cybersecurity professionals to fill the workforce gap by 2022.

What does Gen Z want?

With four generations in the workforce (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z) leaders in cybersecurity will benefit from understanding the needs of Gen Z and how to collaborate with them throughout their careers. This will be critical as we look to fulfill what is an overwhelming number of job openings in the cybersecurity industry. For instance, we know that:

  • Technology is important to them. 40% value working Wi-Fi over working bathrooms. (CampusLogic)
  • They require efficiency. 91% say the sophistication of an employer’s technology is a key factor in whether or not they work there. (Inc.)
  • They want to be connectedand won’t wait around for an email. They are used to instant, multi-channel communication. Collaboration tools will also be key.

Forbes has a great take on connecting with and supporting Gen Z as they enter the workforce. Tying your emerging leaders, such as Millennials, into the mix to help mentor is another great way to build their confidence in the cybersecurity field.

How Gen Z can help cybersecurity

Gen Z is the most tech-savvy generation yet, adapting to enterprise technology quickly and naturally. And as BizTech reports, creating pipelines from colleges and even K-12 schools could be exceptional resources to train and recruit talent for cybersecurity. Students’ aptitudes in these areas are off the charts when compared to when older generations were the same age and working with younger generations can provide malleable minds to develop into the employees we’re looking to train.

Brian Krebs suggests recruiting young hackers (“before they turn criminal,” he says). As quoted by BizTech,“At some point, we need to have a long-term strategy in this country about how to get these people involved for the good side,” he said. “There’s an opportunity there.”

However, don’t take for granted some of the extra training and processes that may need to be defined to Gen Z as they enter the workforce. At present, Baby Boomers and Gen X are the most cybersecure employees. According to an ObserveIT report:

“…Generation Z posed the highest cybersecurity risk to organizations, as 34% of the 18-24-year olds said that they don’t know or understand what is included in their company’s cybersecurity policy. This group was also the most likely generation to reportedly not follow their company’s security policies, even when they do understand it.

Now, those working specifically in the cybersecurity space will have a different take, but nonetheless, as veterans in the industry, it’s important to communicate effectively, lead by example and make sure that the new generation coming on board has a clear understanding of policies, expectations and why these standards are so important.

What you can do now

The sessions at this year’s Cyber Security Summit are full of new ideas and projections on the state of cybersecurity and what the future holds. As you connect with attendees next month, we encourage you to discuss how you’ll fill the gaps and what challenges you may find in engaging the younger generations into this ever-needed, growing industry. Two such events during the week may spark those conversations (FBI Career Opportunities Breakfast, Student Breakfast), but don’t let individual sessions stop you—talk throughout the day and share the ideas together. Bridging the workforce gap will continue to be an important discussion as we work to sustain (and protect) our organizations.

Learn more about the 2018 Cyber Security Summit and register today.


Melissa Harrison is CEO and founder of Allee Creative and has worked with clients in the areas of education, business development, strategy and cybersecurity for 16+ years.