In the midst of a flailing economy and high unemployment rates, the government and private industry find themselves in fierce competition to attract information security experts from a very limited talent pool.
Deputy undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate Philip Reitinger related the problem at a conference sponsored by TechAmerica:
"We need more geeks. I still don’t have enough of them, and getting them is really hard."
The shortage of readily available help is indicative of a lack of emphasis on mathematics and science in the United States education system, and recent years have shown an increase in requests for H-1B visas to allow the importing of talent from foreign nations.
Approximately 50% of all H-1B visas are currently allocated to securing technology professionals.
Also on the increase are the number of annual cybersecurity "bootcamps" geared towards catching the interest of high school and college students and luring them into degree programs where the need is greatest.
Complicating the issue of recruitment for government positions is the fact that private industry tends to offer higher wages for entry-level positions, which is typically more appealing to young, single professionals than are the cushy benefit packages offered for civil service, which appeal more to workers with families.
Even if there were a systemic change to how and what our education system offers kids in the way of preparation for technology careers, the United States would still be a generation behind nations in Asia and Europe.
The result could be the loss of more than our competitive edge in the marketplace, it could result in the loss of our status a cyber superpower.