At CYBER.ORG, we know K-12 cybersecurity education has the power to fill the pipeline of talent needed to solve the cybersecurity workforce shortage, but we also know that there are systemic institutional obstacles actively limiting students’ exposure to cybersecurity education inside the classroom.
According to our study on the state of cybersecurity education in K-12 schools, conducted by EdWeek Research Center, students attending public schools in small and high-poverty districts have significantly less access to cybersecurity education. Additionally, students living in communities without cybersecurity companies have less access to cybersecurity education. School districts in close proximity to cybersecurity companies often reap the benefit because there is a need to fill, recruit and train for open cybersecurity positions. These companies often offer mentorship and internships opportunities to students to help cultivate critical skills. This unequitable access to cybersecurity education is putting more privileged students on the path to cybersecurity careers, while leaving others, often minorities, far behind.
Addressing diversity in the cybersecurity field begins with bridging the opportunity gap and increasing exposure and access to cybersecurity education for all kids as early as kindergarten. Recently Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Chris Krebs advocated for diversifying STEM education at the K-12 level and at technology trade schools to help fill the cybersecurity skills gap. These efforts and policy initiatives are critical to ensuring equitable access to long-lasting cybersecurity and STEM careers.
CYBER.ORG has enrolled 20,000+ teachers in CYBER.ORG’s content platform and 14,000+ teachers have participated in our professional development sessions. We have also developed key partnerships with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) like Grambling State University, to develop an undergraduate cybersecurity degree. Partnerships with schools, regardless of socioeconomic status, is foundational to creating a more equitable future for all students.
We’re hosting an upcoming webinar on Thursday August 27 that will delve into the cybersecurity education gaps that exist in communities and how we can work to diversify the cybersecurity industry by increasing access to K-12 education. Please join us! Register here.