Millennials involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are concerned about their personal information in the hands of government, and many are uninterested in pursuing careers in federal IT, according to a recent report by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT.
The report, “Millennial Math: Informing the Next President’s Tech Policy,” is based on a survey of 1,500 18-25 year old STEM students and recent graduates to obtain their perspective on data privacy, the Internet of Things (IoT), and federal IT careers.
MeriTalk conducted the survey to inform the current Presidential candidates on the positions of America’s most tech-savvy voters.
“America’s competitive edge is based on tech, so the candidates need to listen with both ears,” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder, MeriTalk. “I can hardly wait to hear what WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME will make of these figures.”
The survey revealed that millennials greatly distrust the government, with 56 percent of respondents asserting they do not trust the government with their personal information. However, the private sector did not fare much better, with 54 percent of millennials saying the government is more trustworthy than private industry.
Interestingly, MeriTalk discovered “there is a link between ink and what you think.” Only 38 percent of respondents with a tattoo trust the government with their personal information, compared to 46 percent of respondents without a tattoo.
“Is IoT DOA?” said Dan Verton, executive editor, MeriTalk. “No amount of bluster from Trump or hope from Hillary will keep America competitive if our young technologists don’t trust their government and have no desire to serve.”
IoT has also been met with skepticism. 62 percent of respondents doubt IoT will enhance Americans’ lives. Women in particular have doubts. Men are almost 10 percent more likely than women to believe IoT will enhance people’s lives and 42 percent of men believe the government should regulate IoT, compared to 37 percent of women.
The report also revealed that most millennial STEM students are not interested in pursuing careers in federal IT—a troubling finding considering the government has been experiencing a shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals. Not even a quarter of women are interested in federal IT careers, compared to 40 percent of men.
As cyberattacks continue to increase in number and sophistication, the lack of professionals to meet the burgeoning demand for cyber talent puts the nation at risk.