Girl Scouts of the USA has announced that, starting in September of next year, scouts will be eligible to receive 18 new cybersecurity badges for pursuing skills training. The new badges are the physical product of a partnership with security firm Palo Alto Networks aiming to create a pipeline for cybersecurity talent, which is currently lacking in America. Scouts in kindergarten or first grade will be taught more basic concepts like data privacy and online safety, while older scouts will be taught how to code firewalls.
“At Girl Scouts of the USA, we recognize that in our increasingly tech-driven world, future generations must possess the skills to navigate the complexities and inherent challenges of the cyber realm,” Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo stated in a press release.
Girl Scouts may be best known for selling cookies and staring down Nazis, but a huge part of the organization is teaching girls actionable skills. And learning how to manage and navigate cyber security is extremely practical. Women with that knowledge base will–if forecast prove out–likely find themselves employed and well payed.
The cyber security market is expected to grow to a $170 billion industry by 2020 and there are believed to be up to 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States alone. And according to the most recent Cybersecurity Jobs Report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals could be as high as 3.5 million by 2021.
In the past, badges may have been associated with painting or archery, but these new badges show the worldwide organization is committed to equipping its members with the skills to succeed in the real world.