UAE youth eager to pursue cybersecurity careers: survey

Young adults in the UAE are considerably more likely to choose a career in cybersecurity than their peers elsewhere in the world, according to a new survey commissioned by Raytheon, Forcepoint and the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). The survey also discovered that the UAE has been successful in engaging most youth to try activities that would let them test their interest and aptitude for cybersecurity careers.

For the report, “Securing Our Future: Cybersecurity and the Millennial Workforce,” Raytheon and Forcepoint, in partnership with NCSA, surveyed 3,359 young adults aged 18 to 26 from nine countries across four continents. The annual survey demonstrated young Emiratis consider parents increasingly influential figures for career advice and are confident that their parents would know how to guide them to pursue a career in cybersecurity and educate them on staying safe online.

In addition, young Emiratis hold values that support a strong cybersecurity posture for their nation, saying they think cybersecurity issues are important and offering to serve in national security roles.

The survey found that:

  • 67 percent of Emiratis surveyed reported they are more likely than a year ago to consider a job in cybersecurity, compared with 48 percent regionally and 39 percent globally
  • 64 percent of Emirati youth have participated in or sought out cybersecurity job fairs, and 60 percent have participated in or sought out mentoring programs in the field
  • 96 percent of Emirati youth are confident or very confident that their parents could effectively guide them to pursue cybersecurity careers, compared with 79 percent in the region and 57 percent globally
  • 74 percent of respondents said a parent was the first person to talk about the importance of cybersecurity in their lives, up from 50 per cent in 2016
  • 70 percent of those who said they were more likely to choose a career in cybersecurity believe in the importance of a more secure internet, compared with 65 percent in the region and 52 percent globally
  • When asked what types of organizations respondents would protect if they were a cybersecurity professional, 81 percent of UAE youth chose the government, and 79 percent selected the military

The survey, independently conducted by Zogby Analytics, an internationally renowned opinion research firm, aimed to identify the root causes of the cyber talent gap as part of a shared, long-term commitment to building a robust talent pipeline and provide insights into improving cybersecurity across the globe at multiple levels, including individual, organizational, national and global security.

“The UAE has long recognized the importance of equipping young Emiratis with the tools and skills to keep up with modern day opportunities and challenges,” said Shahzad Zafar, Cybersecurity Director, Raytheon International Inc. “The survey demonstrates the enhanced efforts the UAE has put in place to build the next generation of cyber defenders and safeguard its cyber future.”

Raytheon has delivered a series of activities to students at Khalifa University of Science & Technology under Raytheon’s global Cyber Academy, which debuted in the UAE in 2016 including cyber skills workshop and thought leadership lectures. This is part of Raytheon’s commitment to partner with leading education institutions and its commitment to developing cyber capacity and an effective talent pipeline for Emirati youth.

Dr. Tod Laursen, Interim President of Khalifa University of Science and Technology added: “We highly value cybersecurity as a subject to prepare young people to navigate through today’s environment of threats and capitalize on opportunities in the field by providing a solid cyber-related curriculum. The results of Raytheon’s survey underline the progress being made and we are confident that we will see more and more young Emiratis pursue promising careers in cybersecurity.”

The survey results were released concurrent with RSA Abu Dhabi 2017, being held from November 7-8.

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