Over the past year, we’ve seen powerful examples of how cybersecurity is at the forefront of national security and business operations. In the ongoing war in Ukraine, cyberattacks have grown more sophisticated, and responding to them has been elevated to sit alongside other crucial elements of warfare and national power. And in recent weeks, cyberattacks on two of Las Vegas’ largest casinos have shown that even with preparation, vulnerability exists, exposing organizations to both financial and reputational damage.

The Ongoing Need for Cybersecurity Awareness

Cybersecurity Awareness Month draws our attention to critical issues that companies and countries around the world are facing—an evolving threat landscape, the breakdown of privacy, and the gap between the cybersecurity workforce we have and the one we need. But in these challenges, there are also tremendous opportunities. With increased awareness—and strategic action—we can secure critical systems for governments and businesses globally, build a more diverse, inclusive workforce, and upskill or reskill people in a variety of roles for the future.

Organizations of all kinds face an increasing number of digital risks, from ransomware to insider threats, and cyberattacks have the potential to disrupt—or worse, incapacitate—critical systems and services everywhere. Increasingly, cyberattacks are focused on organizations such as schools and hospitals, as well as payment services and power grids. And while many entities are aware of the security threats and risks, we don’t have workers with the skills we need to respond. In short, we need 3.4 million more cybersecurity experts to support today’s global economy.

Closing the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

At Cisco, we’re helping to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap through Cisco Networking Academy. Approaching its 26th year, it is one of the longest-standing IT skills-to-jobs programs worldwide. Since its inception, we’ve trained over 17.5 million global learners, and we’re looking ahead to the future. Last fall, we announced a new goal—to offer digital and cybersecurity skills training to 25 million more global learners over the next 10 years, including 10 million in the EMEA region.

We’ve taken ambitious steps to forge key partnerships to drive access—offering NetAcad programs through high schools and community and technical colleges. We’re also introducing new courses that respond to the needs of the landscape, like our Ethical Hacker course, which tackles offensive security and prepares learners for in-demand roles.

And because we know that technology continues to drive rapid change in the economic landscape, many already in the workforce need access to re-skilling and upskilling opportunities. That’s we we’re also partnering with global HR services company Randstad and IT staffing leader Experis to offer new skills to hundreds of thousands of working people.

By offering skills training to more people globally, we have a powerful opportunity to build a more inclusive economy while we address the threats in the landscape. As more countries and communities everywhere digitize, and the need for those with cybersecurity skills increases, we have a chance to reach those who are often most impacted by economic inequality, including women, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities.

Building a Culture around Cybersecurity Awareness

In all workplaces, the need for cybersecurity awareness and action increasingly extends to every role. Those of us in the C-Suite influence how organizational cybersecurity strategies play out. CxO roles make crucial decisions around budget and staffing, as well as developing a culture that prioritizes cybersecurity. IT professionals are at the heart of our intricate cybersecurity measures, with a deep understanding of network security, secure-by-design processes for various products, and incident response procedures. And every team—from human resources to finance to sales—has a vital role to play in keeping our organizations secure.

In our jobs, our personal lives, and in the global economy, cybersecurity awareness and action are imperatives. And while we still have a long way to go to close the cybersecurity skills gap, at Cisco we are empowering individuals to develop the skills needed for the workforce of the future. Our experience tells us that bridging the cyber skills gap will not only strengthen our businesses, governments, and organizations, it will also open opportunities to build a more diverse and inclusive global economy, for all.



Francine Katsoudas

Executive Vice President

Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer