Headlines about the cybersecurity industry, especially about its future workforce, are often as pessimistic as they are alarming – millions of unfilled jobs, a rapidly evolving threat landscape amplified by AI, and a widening talent gap. 

This narrative might grab headlines, but it fails to recognize the massive opportunity that exists in the cybersecurity industry today. The 3.4 million unfilled cyber positions globally represent 3.4 million people who can make an impact on one of the largest technical challenges of our generation. 


There may be a shortage of individuals trained and working in cybersecurity, but there is no shortage of individuals who are willing to learn if  given the opportunity.  

Cybersecurity challenges are only getting more complex. As much as the industry focuses on bringing new technologies to market, it’s equally important to build a pipeline for future talent who not only have the technical skills but the right mindset to thrive in a rapidly changing, high-pressure environment. 

Raising Awareness of Cybersecurity and Cybersecurity Careers

Given the widespread availability of technology, cybersecurity awareness can start as early as elementary school. Students as young as fifth grade already have enough personal experience with technology to understand the basics of cybersecurity.  

Even just one interaction with someone in the cybersecurity industry can open a student’s eyes to a high demand career path that could change their life – whether in elementary, middle, high school or college.  

ReliaQuest has seen this firsthand, through partnerships with youth education organizations, internships and collegiate programs that allow us to raise awareness of cybersecurity and the career opportunities within it.  


As a partner of Junior Achievement (JA), ReliaQuest directly reaches students from fifth through eighth grade. In Tampa Bay, for example, ReliaQuest operates a cybersecurity storefront at the JA Biz Town, a mini city that gives elementary students first-hand experience operating various businesses, including dealing with “hacks” and protecting data. ReliaQuest also operates a storefront in JA’s Finance Park, where middle school students learn about personal finance and protecting their own assets.  

In ReliaQuest’s other operating centers around the world, ReliaQuest teammates volunteer at a number of other JA events, including career fairs and field trips on site.   

“My experiences volunteering at JA at times were rewarding, humbling, but always a good time seeing kids working and participating in what seems like life will be for them in 10-15 years,” said ReliaQuest teammate Mila Nikolenko. “It’s rewarding to see that these places still exist to give a child a glimpse of reality and gives us the opportunity to do so. The most rewarding thing is helping the next generation see what’s possible.” 


At the high school level, ReliaQuest is a founding partner of 3DE Schools by Junior Achievement – an innovative program that re-engineers curriculum to be more relevant and experiential, connecting coursework to real-life case studies with corporate partners. ReliaQuest’s case challenge invites students to help design a marketing plan to support its collegiate cyber labs program at the University of South Florida.  

3DE students have outperformed peers on state assessments by over 80 percent, with markedly higher proficiency in reading and math and an average 10% increase in graduation rates. Most importantly, they are able to make real connections between what they are learning in the classroom to potential career paths, including cybersecurity.   

In a similar vein, ReliaQuest is also a founding partner with Think Big for Kids, a nonprofit that engages middle and high school students through the Boys and Girls Club to provide career awareness and readiness. ReliaQuest teammates volunteer at Boys and Girls Club sites as well as hosting career showcases and field trips at the company’s headquarters in Tampa.    

Not only will these efforts help build the talent pipeline, they will also support innovation as we bring a broader range of traditional and non-traditional backgrounds and perspectives to cybersecurity. 

Preparing the Next Generation of Cyber Talent  

At the collegiate level, ReliaQuest has invested millions in hands-on labs programs to complement cybersecurity programs with real-world experience.  

As one example, the ReliaQuest Labs program at the University of South Florida (USF) is a first-of-its-kind program that offers students a four-week immersion program alongside ReliaQuest mentors. Students learn how to perform-in depth analysis on cyber threats, as well as how to use various tools across the security tech stack, including ReliaQuest’s GreyMatter security operations platform.  

It is open to students from any USF college, and during ReliaQuest’s partnership over the last five years we have hired nearly 100 students (77) out of the program.  Graduates receive a digital badge to display on their social media platforms and résumés. About 20 percent receive full-time job offers from ReliaQuest, and 70 percent accept roles somewhere in the field. The program is free and open to all undergraduate and graduate students. 

ReliaQuest’s Role in Raising Cybersecurity Awareness 

In addition to ReliaQuest’s intentional approach to partnering with youth education programs to raise awareness of cybersecurity careers, we also focus on high-visibility opportunities to raise awareness of cybersecurity to a large public audience. 

For example, ReliaQuest’s title sponsorship of the NCAA ReliaQuest Bowl played on New Year’s Day provides a high-profile platform to bring cybersecurity awareness mainstream. The ReliaQuest Bowl garnered 2.2 million viewers; many of whom may have never considered that behind the fear and threats associated with cybersecurity, there are also massive opportunities.   

We also sponsor like-minded sports franchises that focus on high performance and getting a little bit better, including those in the backyard of our global headquarters: The Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Bucs and collegiate partners across the state such as USF and Florida State University.  

Outside of athletics, it’s also important to educate the next wave of entrepreneurs, especially in technology, about building sustainable businesses with cybersecurity in mind. ReliaQuest is a key partner of Embarc Collective, Florida’s fastest growing and largest startup hub, supporting 150 tech- and tech-enabled startups and providing programming to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs and investors. Embarc’s Glaring Gap Summit, sponsored by ReliaQuest, for example, provides startup investment training to over 150 women across Florida.  


ReliaQuest’s Approach to Hiring and Training 

Ultimately, at ReliaQuest, we believe that having the right attitude, energy and effort are better predictors of success than necessarily having prior cyber experience or theoretical knowledge. That’s why we invest at least 4% of our annual revenue into training and development.  

With hundreds of new teammates hired each year, ReliaQuest provides extensive resources to maintain retention and high levels of job satisfaction, as consistently reported in companywide surveys.  

This includes technical training across various cybersecurity technologies, as well as mindset training led by professional mental performance coaches, the No Show Dogs podcast, and the ReliaQuest Leadership Academy, build in-house and taught by our own leaders. We do this because while there is no “perfect,” there is always a better, and we strive to get better every day.  


Security is a Team Sport  

In a climate where the demand for cybersecurity experts outweighs the supply, ReliaQuest continues to work to create opportunities for individuals who want to make an impact.  

From youth education programs such as Junior Achievement, or high-visibility events such as the ReliaQuest Bowl, to make security possible goes beyond tools and technology. It takes all of us, from cybersecurity professionals to individuals from non-traditional backgrounds to educators to community leaders. 

The challenge in cybersecurity is massive. So are the opportunities for those driven to Make it Possible.