With underrepresentation in the industry, Atlanta educators have a duty to fuel a diverse talent pipeline and close the opportunity gap in cybersecurity.
A discussion with Scarlett Howery, Vice President of Campus and University Partnerships, DeVry University
Q: What does the available talent pool look like for cybersecurity jobs in Georgia?
A: As of September 2022, there are approximately 25,000 cybersecurity job openings in Georgia, with not enough qualified applicants to fill the opportunities. At the same time, a recent Aspen Institute report found that only 4% of cybersecurity workers identify as Hispanic, while 9% identify as Black, and 24% as women, highlighting cybersecurity’s diversity gap.
Atlanta is also a culturally rich city with nearly half of its population comprised of Black or African American individuals, and it’s imperative that the workforce represents that. Creating more inclusive career pathways in cybersecurity will not only help fill the talent shortage and increase needed representation, but it will also help improve business outcomes with diverse perspectives and new types of problem-solving skills.
Q: What barriers are there to achieving increased diversity in cybersecurity?
A: Tech companies continue to lay down roots in Atlanta hoping to attract new workers to our thriving market and access qualified talent from our diverse communities. But the stark reality is that our current talent pool – and especially our diverse talent pool – often lacks the necessary cyber, data and information security skill sets these companies are looking for.
A recent survey found that 77% of cyber professionals said cybersecurity was not even offered as part of their educational curriculum. Creating access to and awareness of cybersecurity career pathways — through methods like flexible programming, mentorship programs and corporate partnerships — is critical to support a diverse talent pipeline while also filling the high volume of job openings in the state.
Q: What role can academic institutions play in bridging the local talent gap and creating inclusivity in tech career pathways?
A: Atlanta’s pool of emerging diverse talent can greatly benefit from the collective support of educational partners to create awareness of and real access to tech careers. Education institutions must band together to supply both hard skills like firewall protection and data encryption and soft skills like the ability to communicate the importance of data security across organizations.
For example, to support young talent with an interest in tech or cybersecurity, DeVry University is building upon its mission of closing the opportunity gap to help meet local needs and empower learners to meaningfully improve their lives and workplaces, including in Atlanta. We’re active in these communities by providing programming and resources designed to offer real-world skills building and personalized support for every type of learner, whether through traditional four-year education path, two-year associate degrees or certificates. Not everyone’s career trajectory looks the same, so we’ve created a robust set of flexible offerings that many diverse populations in Atlanta need to succeed while also working to build qualified tech talent for today’s digital economy.
Q: What resources or programs has DeVry activated to empower diverse talent to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
A: DeVry has created agile academic programming as well as access to resources and ongoing support to foster continued interest in cybersecurity. Recent examples include our national Future Cyber Defenders Scholars Program, which provides aspiring and current cyber professionals with access to internships to pursue or develop a cybersecurity career, as well as our Nonprofit Cyber Grant in in Atlanta which helps upskill and reskill local nonprofit employees in data security.
At DeVry, we recognize that having access to comprehensive resources and support are integral to building a diverse pool of tech talent. In doing so, we are ensuring diverse populations are represented and given the opportunity to succeed in roles that are continuously shaped by technological change, like cybersecurity.