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CenturyLink Economic Development

Author: Tim Mcilveene, Manager, Economic Development 

Dec. 12, 2018

Benjamin Franklin said “the only certainties in life are death and taxes”. With all due respect to one of our Founding Fathers, another one should be added to the certainties of life – a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related field is a great way to build for and protect the future.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM related occupations is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.

Employees with STEM skills and training will continue to be a vital part of CenturyLink’s current and future workforce.  With the close of the Level 3 acquisition, CenturyLink now has one of the world’s largest and most connected networks.  Government, large and small businesses and millions of consumers rely on it every day. CenturyLink’s network literally connects the world.  Therefore, it is imperative to have a well prepared and highly trained workforce that can keep the network safe and protected from all manner of threats. Cybersecurity is a top concern and priority. 

Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the threats and challenges of keeping sensitive data secure and away from hackers.  This is an expensive problem for businesses, and a tremendous opportunity for those who have readied themselves to help companies combat this menace.

Consider these statistics from ISACA, a global leader in information technology knowledge:

  • $1 billion worth of personally identifiable information was stolen in 2014.
  • The average cost of a data breach is expected to be $150 million by 2020. 
  • 84% of organizations believe half or fewer of applicants for open IT security jobs are qualified.
  • 89% of consumers in the United States believe it is important for organizations to have cybersecurity certified employees. 

A strong Cybersecure internet ecosystem depends on STEM education- both in terms of work force as well as all of the individuals connecting to and through our infrastructure. As a leading technology company, CenturyLink is committed to helping build the future by encouraging and supporting STEM education related initiatives.  From sponsoring an integrated curriculum in high schools to hosting robotics camps and teacher training, the company is working to shape its destiny and future workforce.

Part of this initiative is to ensure that diverse voices are included in these fields. Specifically, traditionally underrepresented populations like females and minorities bring insight and perspectives that have not been traditionally included in this field. For example, Senior Director for Special Program Sales Cynthia Shelton spoke at NATO’s Women in Cybersecurity Forum in Mons Belgium where she discussed the fact that only 10% of cybersecurity jobs are held by women, yet there are over a million unfilled positions in the U.S. alone. With more than 30 years of experience in the intelligence community, she is a strong voice for inclusion. For example, she is involved in a program called CyberBlueTM that introduces neurodiverse individuals with autism and dyslexia into the high-tech workforce. For more on CyberBlueTM , click here.

It’s an exciting time to be in technology.  As the pace of change seems to ramp up and get faster and faster, it is important to encourage the leaders of the future who will move us further and keep us safer.  Now more than ever it’s important to the company to support students interested in STEM fields.  As Malcom X said, “Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”