There’s a growing need for cybersecurity experts in New Brunswick with as many as 1,000 jobs expected to be available in the field over the next 10 years, says the government agency focused on growing the province’s cybersecurity ecosystem.
Tyson Johnson, chief operating officer for CyberNB, says students who are taking cybersecurity courses in high school are already being recruited by companies within the province.
“They will mentor the students on the job and get them through college programs and out into the streets quicker,” Johnson said.
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Three years ago, New Brunswick launched an initiative to develop its thriving cybersecurity industry.
So far, Johnson said more than 400 new jobs have been created, with 600 more expected to open up in the next 18 months and 400 more within the next five years.
“Finding talent is the biggest challenge that cybersecurity firms have to being successful long term,” he said.
He said many firms are having to recruit people from outside of Canada to fill current positions.
But with cybersecurity programs now being offered in New Brunswick schools as early as Grade 6, the long-term goal is to train and recruit homegrown talent.
“What is waiting for them is a job in a sector that has an average salary of $80,000 a year,” said Johnson.
The key, he said, is to engage more students to take an interest in cybersecurity studies.
Hope Steeves, a Grade 11 student at Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, N.B., is enrolled in a cybersecurity class and is learning how to take down hackers, one keystroke at a time.
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“Think about scammers and stuff how they try to invade people’s computers — you can key them out of their computer so they cannot access their computer anymore. It’s good to stop that,” she said.
Steeves says she’s anticipating getting a job right out of high school in cybersecurity.
“Hopefully do college and work at the same time,” she said.
Johnson says Steeves has a good chance of getting a job quickly, given that there is currently a zero per cent unemployment rate in cybersecurity worldwide.
He said training and recruiting more highly trained cybersecurity experts in the province will help grow the industry.
Steeves, originally from Ontario, said she would like nothing more than to stay in New Brunswick, working to protect firms from security breaches and those scammers she talked about.
She calls herself a “police officer for the internet.”