Investing in MENA millennials key to enhance cybersecurity

In Research

Millennials in the Middle East are the key to the solution of raising cybersecurity concerns in the region provided, the abundant talent is recognized and nurtured, reveals a recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton.

Globally, there is a shortage of 2.9 million cybersecurity professionals, according to the 2018 Cybersecurity Workforce Study. This gap is more pronounced in the Middle East which is further fueled by an improper understanding of cybersecurity requirements, lack of proper training and talent identification on the part of the organizations. But given that the region has one of the world’s youngest populations and highest youth unemployment rates, there is tremendous opportunity to better engage millennials in the cyber workforce.

Research has also shown that the cybersecurity profession aligns with MENA millennial career motivators, such as the ability to continuously learn, prioritizing continued professional development for valued industry certifications, career progression opportunities, and highly commanded salaries.

Booz Allen recommends strategic initiatives to attract and develop millennials for the cybersecurity profession. This includes developing a holistic program with multiple stakeholders, including government, employers, and academia and supporting it with a professionalized career model, motivation-based recruitment and workforce capacity building.

The UAE has made significant progress in establishing a national framework on cybersecurity that aims to create a safe and resilient cyberinfrastructure in the UAE. The strategy aims to encourage over 40,000 students to pursue a career in cybersecurity. This is a positive step to create a digitally-empowered workforce of the future.

Souheil Moukaddem, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, said: “Data from the World Bank shows that the millennial generation in the MENA comprises approximately one-third of the total population and more than 50 per cent of the labour force. Therefore, there is a huge opportunity to harness its untapped potential. Furthermore, as digital natives, many are tech-savvy enough to quickly acclimate and evolve into a cybersecurity occupation with the appropriate formal and on-the-job training.”

A concerted effort and not just a mere presence of motivating factors is needed to design targeted cyber-awareness campaigns to improve the cybersecurity employee value proposition and engage millennials through government, employer, and academia collaboration.

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