A common undertone throughout SINET ITSEF (as it is at most cybersecurity conferences) was concern over the shortage of qualified labor. Ways of addressing range from increased reliance on artificial intelligence to efforts to inspire elementary school students to think about careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (generally) and in information security (specifically). These approaches would redress shortfalls in the labor market over the longer term.
A nearer term approach was outlined by LifeJourney CEO Rick Geritz. In a brief presentation he outlined the National Security Agency's use of the LifeJourney platform in the Agency's NSA Day Of Cyber, "a national initiative designed to raise the National IQ for STEM and Cyber Science careers by inspiring the next generation of students through a self guided interactive, online cybersecurity awareness experience." NSA's goal is to increase the number of students going into cyber-related fields. Geritz said the challenges of cybersecurity were, in effect, "America's new space race."
In its work on the NSA Day of Cyber, LifeJourney developed a cyber aptitude test. As students take the test, their cyber IQ is calculated, and that IQ is also compared against that of professionals working in the field. "People who are good at cyber," Geritz said, "tend to be self-taught, and they hunger for more knowledge." The test not only serves as an attractive tool for inspiration (he showed several striking photos of large numbers of students devoting their weekend free time to voluntary testing) but it's also a useful tool for companies looking for young cybersecurity talent.