Students in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are looking at IT, including cybersecurity, as a prospective career, according to the latest study by SANS Institute.
The latest research from global IT security training company SANS Institute noted that student between the age of 14-18 across seven countries in the Middle East and Europe are interested in a career in IT. The study noted that 49 percent of those surveyed were specifically interested in cybersecurity across the EMEA sample of students, with Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the pack at 63 percent and 58 percent respectively.
A majority of students across EMEA had heard of cybersecurity (81 percent), the results show that those countries with higher awareness of the subject could potentially have a competitive advantage when it comes to building out talent in the longer term, the report noted.
The role of parents in education of cybersecurity around mobile devices and public Wi-Fi, to a great extent, was the highest in Saudi Arabia (51 percent) and the UAE (44 percent) followed by Germany (38 percent) amongst this sample of EMEA countries.
SANS also highlighted that given the prolific nature of cybersecurity and the media attention it attracts today, it is perhaps surprising that no country achieved 100 percent awareness. It also found that 32 percent of students across EMEA are considering IT as one of their top five career choices. On a local level, students from Saudi Arabia (47 percent), the UAE (46 percent) and Germany (33 percent) are more likely to consider IT in their top five careers. Of those interested in IT careers, creating applications and software topped the list of sub-categories overall (61 percent), followed by IT system design (52 percent), and cyber security in third (49 percent). Of those students interested in IT as a career choice, cyber security had the highest preference in Saudi Arabia (63 percent) and the UAE (58 percent).
Furthermore, the report underlined that whether or not students are aware of the career options available, 81 percent of students across EMEA said they would be interested in learning more on the subject, as part of their school day, an extra-curricular activity, or both. Again, Saudi Arabia and the UAE led the pack with over 93 percent of students in Saudi Arabia and 91 percent in the UAE wanting to get to know more about cyber security.
“We are currently on the brink of a cybersecurity crisis. By 2020, there will be approximately 24 billion Internet-connected devices installed across the world. However, reports show that in the next year or two, unfilled cybersecurity job openings globally will run into several millions, meaning we are severely short of professionals to secure all those devices and systems we are putting online. Given the enthusiasm and aptitude of the iGeneration for digital technologies, the answer to our cyber crisis could lie in enthusing and educating younger generations about cybersecurity now, to arm our future workforce,” said Ned Baltagi, managing director, Middle East, SANS Institute.
SANS is currently running programmes in the US and UK to develop knowledge and awareness among school-age students.
“The research shows that Saudi Arabia and UAE lead the EMEA pack in terms of awareness of cyber security and preference as a career option. The role of parents in increasing the awareness of cyber security around connected devices and public Wi-Fi is also indicated. With the continuing growth in both nation state and everyday cybercrime, both parents and their school-age children are becoming aware of the importance of cybersecurity skills and their role in selecting a career in this field,” added Baltagi.