Natural Gas Cyber Attack Confirms $14 Billion Investment In Cyber Security Jobs

 My goal is to make the job seeking public aware that problems like cyber attacks can  lead  to job opportunities. Links are provided to allow the reader to read the original information.

Cyber Attack : A Real Threat To Infrastructure

In March of 2012 Pike Research, a marketing and research firm issued a report“Smart Grid Cyber Security” where they discussed the $14 Billion investment needed in smart grid cyber security in the utilities sector. Here is a quote from that report that should widen your perspective on why this level of investment is needed:

“As some technologies, such as smart metering, near a decade of thought and deployment, the approach to cyber security has become more thoughtful. One thing, unfortunately, has not changed: cyber security is still way behind the attackers.”- Pike Research Senior Analyst Bob Lockhart

Natural Gas Pipeline Cyber Attack Shows Problems & Opportunity

In May 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  revealed  that hackers have made a concerted effort to attack natural gas supply controls systems. ABCNews and FOXDC  both reported  the attackers allegedly used social media, e-mail and other websites to target employees and lure them into divulging passwords to critical systems and sensitive information. My regular readers know that I have written about the emergence and importance of cyber security jobs before but now I want to reinforce how these jobs are more critical than ever. Here is why:

  •  It has been widely reported that utility companies may not have all of people and resources needed to avert future cyber attacks. 
  • Hackers are using more sophisticated methods to attack infrastructure related systems.
  • As the smart grid build out continues, security will be a constant need

To get ahead of this threat, government agencies such as the FBI, DOD, technology, utility and energy companies are positioning themselves to hire hundreds (if not thousands) of computer security analysts and engineers. Some major colleges and universities like University of Maryland -Baltimore County (UMBC) have developed specific degree programs which are recognized by top employers.

 What You Need to Do

If you are an IT professional or job seeker here are some tips that could help your career:

  1. Find out more information on the CISSP certification, job skills and training you need to qualify for these opportunities
  2. Find out which colleges and universities offer degrees and classes for this field
  3. Subscribe to credible resources which provide the latest information on industry trends
  4. Attend conferences and networking groups to meet other professionals who can open doors to the “Hidden Job Market”
Thanks for reading. We look forward to your comments.

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Smart Grid Cybersecurity Virtual Conference To Highlight New Technology

Smart Grid Cyber Security is a $10 Billion per year business. Without it, our country’s plans for energy efficiency and security would be hindered by cyber attacks, systems failures and natural disasters (solar storms). This conference will highlight some of the new initiatives and technologies rolling out in the coming years . For those who are looking for potential job opportunities with Smart Grid Technologies, here are some general types of  jobs which should see growth from Cyber Security initiatives.

  • Enterprise Architect
  • Software Engineer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Database Architect
  • Business Analyst
  • Hardware Engineer

Our goal is to make  job seekers aware of the opportunities in this fast growing field.

More Conference Information

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Where The Green Jobs Are Opening Up

Redefining Green Jobs

Last week, I got a call from a national news organization who wanted me to come on live

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TV to comment on David Brooks’ New York Times article “Where the Jobs Aren’t”. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity but after reading Mr. Brooks article, I felt I had to respond. The biggest problem with green jobs is not their availability but the definition of “green jobs”. Here is my definition of green jobs :

“Green, environmental and infrastructure jobs are those jobs which improve the quality of life (economics, energy and infrastructure), restore the environment and lessen environmental impacts through technology, conservation and recycling of resources.”

Green Jobs Are More Than Clean Energy Technology

In his article, Mr. Brooks asserted that green jobs and green energy jobs are synonymous and pointed out how some government sponsored green energy programs have failed to create the jobs promised by the President. While I support Mr. Brooks’ comments on his specific points, I felt it necessary to explain to the public that green jobs are more than green (or clean) energy technology. Green jobs encompass myriad career fields across the construction, environmental, infrastructure, maintenance and manufacturing sectors.(This is why I call them green, environmental and infrastructure jobs)  It is in these sectors,which is often overlooked by green job advocates and detractors alike ,that companies are looking for new workers. Let me explain:

Missing information About Other Green Jobs

One of the major tenants of the green movement is being more efficient with resources. Before a solar or wind facility can produce power, it must be connected to the electrical grid. Most of the current US electrical grid was built in the early 20th century, “leaks” large amounts of energy during high winds and  is prone to large scale blackouts during peak demand periods (see US DOE report power lines) and (see southwest power blackout). Many staunch green energy advocates mention smart grid technology as part of the clean energy jobs agenda but downplay physical grid infrastructure upgrades such as replacing copper lines with super conductive lines, building new substations and new natural gas fired plants as new sources of jobs. Why? Here is the short answer: These construction,engineering, maintenance and manufacturing jobs in the utility sector are not considered green in some circles because they not singularly support clean energy agenda and do not evoke an emotional response from the public.

An Example of Where the Green Jobs Are

Mr. Brooks quoted a GE executive who touted that the GE Smart Grid Initiative would eliminate 128,000 meter reader jobs and a study by McKinsey which found that Smart Grid technology would create a “few engineering jobs” . What was not reported is that the energy utilities industry is having a tough time finding qualified workers for their engineering and maintenance positions maintain the electrical grid (See “Why Many Green, Environmental & Infrastructure Jobs Will Go Unfilled”). In 2008, the Center of Energy Workforce Development reported that 46 percent of the energy utility high skilled workforce (including technician jobs) will have to be replaced by 2013 due to retirements and attrition (see report here) and 1 in 50 applicants for electrical linemen jobs make it through the interview process (The 2009 report was even worse).This ratio is not completely due to employers being “picky”. The major problem is that there are not enough qualified applicants available due to a lack of skills (read more about the skills gap) and the demand for improved infrastructure is rising.

Now I understand those who disagree with me will quote the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (or O*Net) and say that these jobs are not growing (see the info here).  But when you factor in the ASCE Report Card for energy (see it here) which portends the amount of work that needs to be done; potential number of baby boomer retirees and number of qualified applicants to job picture looks quite different. (Here is a List of Green Jobs and their employment outlooks.)

More Green Jobs to Come

I applaud Mr. Brooks’ article for pointing out the shortcomings of some government sponsored green energy programs but when it comes to reporting on the growth and availability of green jobs the whole story should be told.

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