#NICEK12: Increasing Cyber Career Awareness

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With a packed schedule of over 100 sessions across five tracks, the 2018 NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference endeavored to deliver a wide array of strategies and tactics to enable educators and public schools to enhance their understanding of how to engage students in cybersecurity. 

The five tracks included increasing cybersecurity career awareness, infusing cybersecurity across the educational portfolio, integrating innovative cybersecurity educational approaches, designing cybersecurity academic and career pathways and promoting cyber awareness. 

In talking about innovative ways to introduce students to career paths they may not even know exist, Benjamin Galynker, director of content, Hats & Ladders, spoke about how to go “From Overwhelmed or Slacking to Ethical Hacking.” 

It’s no mystery why the skills gap continues to grow despite industry demand. “The problem we face is understanding how to raise young people’s awareness of career options that their parents might not know about,” Galynker said. 

When it comes to cybersecurity, most people think it’s not for them or more likely that it couldn’t be for them, which is why awareness matters. Society works best when young people pursue careers that they are confident will allow them to succeed in their futures, Galynker said.

There are some missing links, though, between awareness and "what should I do next," which is where educators and schools play a key role. Hats & Ladders is one way to make educators aware of the industry’s efforts to create platforms that will help engage students. 

The organization is intended to connect educators and mentors, industry partners, colleges and community programs to help students begin to understand the career opportunities available to them through online learning, as well as helping educators incorporate into their curriculum more hands-on DIY activities, field trips and observations, internships, apprenticeships and scholarships.

Part of the effort is to help educators understand the root sources. To that end, Hats & Ladders developed a free platform to fill in those missing links, taking students from curiosity to interest, engagement and motivation. 

Often, youth will rely on their own knowledge without realizing what they don’t know. They think they know what they want to do, but they don’t have a second or third choice, nor do they understand the career assets they might have and how they can use those assets to pivot into potential cybersecurity careers. 

“Youth don’t have a lot of career development counseling,” Galynker. “[For] every 437 high school students, there is only one high school counselor, making parents the single largest influence on young people’s careers.”

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