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Virtual Reality Could Help Close Workforce Gap

About three-quarters of respondents in a recent survey said that virtual reality (VR) tools could be a critical next-gen approach to addressing the cybersecurity workforce gap.

By 2020, a projected 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs will be unfulfilled, leaving organizations scrambling to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting talent. In a survey from ESG and ProtectWise based on the opinions of 1,000 US-based millennials/post-millennials (the workforce’s newest generation and the next one poised to enter it, 74% said that the presence of VR tools increases their likelihood of pursuing a career in cybersecurity.

Meanwhile, 65% admitted that they haven’t been exposed to cybersecurity in school, and only 9% of 16-24-year-olds said they are interested in pursuing the cybersecurity field at some point in their career. The top reason for this is a general lack of awareness—39% cited a general lack of knowledge about cybersecurity as a career path—both pointing to a massive opportunity for education on cybersecurity as a viable profession.

“Employers are seeking candidates for tier-one analyst roles who have prior security experience, when in reality 87% of cybersecurity workers don’t start in the field,” the report noted. “Employers also want cybersecurity candidates with highly technical skills to which the average student is not exposed, including intrusion detection, attack mitigation and secure software development. Advanced certifications are required for roles that aren’t necessarily advanced, which deters workers who can earn an attractive salary and develop innovative technology in other fields without the burden of earning more credentials.”

The survey also revealed that this younger group is very aware of next-gen technology, and that gamification of the enterprise is something they would welcome. The survey found that 76% play games regularly and have a high affinity for VR tech. About 58% have used/regularly use VR technologies and expect to do so in the future—and are attracted to jobs that incorporate them. Meanwhile, 72% agreed that access to VR/AR in cybersecurity would make them more effective.

“One solution [to the workforce gap] may be to use technologies that capitalize on humans’ natural ability to reason visually and spatially in order to solve critical problems,” the report said. “Immersive technologies incorporating virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and collaborative gaming principles accomplish this and are being used to problem-solve in other industries—in healthcare to combat obesity, in automobile manufacturing to reduce waste and inefficiency and in the US Army to train recruits. The cybersecurity industry could similarly build solutions that enable fast, effective anomaly detection and remediation based on technologies that do not require highly specialized certifications and education. Doing so could open up the cybersecurity talent pool, particularly among millennials and post-millennials who are avid gamers and have a strong affinity for VR.”

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