Last week at a summit about cybersecurity with colleagues in academia, government, business, and the nonprofit sector I heard another participant say there are now or will soon be 100,000 cybersecurity job openings. In the Washington Post this week, an executive at Trend Micro had a number that was a little more conservative but a message with similar promise: that the US government “needs to hire at least 10,000 [cybersecurity] experts in the near future, and the private sector needs four times that number.” The Post was paraphrasing Tom Kellermann, a vice president at Trend Micro and former member of President Obama’s cybersecurity commission. The National Cyber Security Alliance’s summit was called because schools not only don’t know how to teach students how to deal with cyberattacks, they’re so busy teaching to standardized testing in traditional subjects that they probably don’t have time to. Tens of thousands of jobs and not enough graduates to fill them is not the kind of crisis we hear about much. But a crisis it is, apparently: “Cyberattacks generally come in two varieties,” the Post reports: “state-sponsored intellectual capital theft and strikes against critical digital infrastructure, such as power grids and banking systems. Both kinds are being carried out thousands of times a day.” There was a lot of talk at the summit of the need for more training in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (a ZDNET blog post reported this month that, in 2009, US students “ranked 23rd globally in science and 31st in mathematics in standards of education and qualifications”). But I also heard experts saying that cybersecurity isn’t ensured only with skills learned in those fields of formal education but also with skills in analysis, creative problem-solving, and cross-functional collaboration. I couldn’t help but think of scientist, educator and author John Seely Brown’s recent keynote about the whitewater-kayaking kind of learning needed today.
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