WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Amid big tech layoffs, there is a sector in desperate need of more employees — cybersecurity.
WPTV looked into the boom in demand and the ramifications of a small workforce pool.
Think of them like digital security guards.
With how much time everyone spends using the internet, we want people to protect that information.
Companies are seeking cybersecurity experts to protect all of that data. There's a high demand for those jobs but not enough workers.
Imagine a community with no cops to protect your homes. The streets could look like the wild wild west.
In some ways, that's the internet right now.
"You have firms that have been looking for six months to a year throwing silly money, and they can't find anybody," Alan Crowetz, the owner of Infostream, an information technology support firm that offers cybersecurity, said.
He said demand for these positions has "gone through the ceiling."
But the supply of cybersecurity experts is low. Cyberseek, a cybersecurity career tool website, said there are only enough workers to fill 68% of the cybersecurity jobs employers need in the U.S.
It also shows Florida is among the top five states with the highest number of job openings in cybersecurity — close to 40,000. In a quick search online, WPTV found 182 related job openings within 50 miles of West Palm Beach, paying up to $180,000 a year.
"It's a totally new arena, totally new domain. We live, work and play online now, therefore the world of security has to expand and broaden to address the way people are living, working and playing," Palm Beach State College Professor Dwight Elliott said.
Elliott teaches cybersecurity at Palm Beach State College. He said the college is working to expand its curriculum to keep up with the growing demands of a digital economy.
"They say follow the money trail, pretty much, you know criminals as well are going to challenge or go after those digital assets online," Elliott said.
Dr. Theo Owusu, who works for the information management program at the college, said in the last few years financial resources online have expanded. More people are working remotely, pushing companies to adapt to secure data.
"A lot of jobs never had somebody that was designated to oversee this, but now there's a need for it," Owusu said.
Students in information technology are seeing that. Graduate Marwan Abdulmalek said he initially started in computer engineering but switched his major.
"I worked as an IT, and I saw a growing need for cybersecurity professionals, especially here these days companies want to hire cybersecurity professionals," Abdulmalek said.
Crowetz said perhaps employees impacted by big tech layoffs will make the switch, but even he admits there are more bad guys than the "good guys" in cybersecurity.
"So, the massive amount of information you have online, that's out there in the world, is a target because there's not enough cops on the beat is what it boils down to," Crowetz said.
A cybersecurity grant Palm Beach State College recently received aims to create a pipeline of students from the Palm Beach County School District into associate and bachelor's degree programs in cybersecurity at the school.