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Closing the talent gap to secure the future: Cisco rolls out $10 million cybersecurity scholarship

June 14, 2016 - 71 Comments

Finding – and keeping – the cybersecurity talent required for today’s digital economy is a serious challenge. And it’s getting worse. Here at Cisco, we’re perpetually hearing from employers and hiring managers about their struggles with the growing cybersecurity skills gap. How bad is it? Well, the RSA Conference and ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity: Implications for 2015 report found that more than half of the global professionals surveyed said that fewer than 25 percent of cybersecurity applicants were qualified to perform the tasks necessary for the job.

Any entity with an online presence is faced with a two-fold problem: Cyber criminals are rapidly proliferating and their tactics are evolving, but businesses don’t have the skilled individuals they need to anticipate vulnerabilities and lock down security. To make matters worse, technology changes rapidly, often leaving IT professionals without the advanced skills necessary to protect their companies. Imagine what those vulnerabilities can do to undermine not only businesses, but also municipalities, military installations, government agencies, and other entities.

This conundrum weighs heavily on chief information security officers and other IT executives. But isn’t it time to stop thinking of cybersecurity as just an IT issue? In fact, it’s an issue that directly affects every part of the enterprise. Every organization today needs trained security operations professionals who can monitor, identify, isolate, and proactively mitigate threats in real time. But finding the qualified talent for such a critical role can quickly become a full-time job itself.

Cybersecurity Is a Business Issue

We hear about these growing concerns from our customers all the time. And news stories tell us about the growing number of data breaches almost every day, leaving companies and their customers at the mercy of criminals. Often, it can seem like these criminals are winning the cybersecurity war.

But we have a way to outsmart them. Cisco is introducing a new Global Cybersecurity Scholarship program and enhancing its security certification portfolio. Cisco will invest  $10 million over a two-year period, to establish a scholarship program with the specific goal of increasing the cybersecurity talent pool. Through the program, Cisco will offer training, mentoring, and certification aligned with the Security Operations Center Analyst role.

Additionally, Cisco will be working with a comprehensive variety of organizations to leverage this scholarship as a platform to spur career interest and jump-start their employees’ careers in cybersecurity. This includes diversity organizations, veterans’ groups, and early-in-career audiences.

Updates to the Certification Portfolio: Good for Business, Good for Employees

Coupled with the scholarship launch is the introduction of the new Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cyber Ops certification. It assesses individuals on the skills needed to assist with monitoring IT security systems, detecting cyber-attacks, gathering and analyzing evidence, correlating information, and coordinating responses to cyber incidents.

Through this program, learners entering the tech field will acquire a skill set that’s in extraordinarily high demand from companies in every industry. This is a boon to both individual learners as well as organizations.

Additionally, we’re introducing a revision to our existing Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Security certification. The updates address the new skills and education IT professionals at the expert level require to successfully address emerging and evolving technologies. For example, the updated curriculum includes assessments on the latest security technologies, including Advanced Threat Protection, Advanced Malware Protection, Next-Generation IPS, Virtualization, Automation, and Information Exchange. It also includes a new assessment approach to help ensure that candidates demonstrate knowledge and skills with Network Programmability, Cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT).

For their part, companies can hire from this fresh talent pool while also electing to reskill existing IT employees, conferring significantly enhanced value on workers who already know a company’s culture, infrastructure, and IT landscape.

Looking Ahead

Online users are generating massive quantities of data at a staggering pace, and an exponential number of connected devices are being added every day. We’re dealing with more complexity as well. In fact, in the IoT, devices are automatically creating 277 times more data than individuals are creating. Where we used to talk in terms of megabytes and gigabytes, the industry is now managing petabytes and zettabytes – orders of magnitude greater than anything we’ve managed before. And it’s still growing!

As we think about this new world and the continuous creation of interwoven systems, we are realizing that a new level of trust is required.

We must trust the systems that manage and process the data, the people and partners who access the data, and the systems, controls, fundamental technologies, and processes that protect the data. It’s increasingly clear that the entire online industry must do its part to train workers, helping them acquire the critical skills necessary to secure the Internet of Things.

By launching this new scholarship program, Cisco is playing a significant leadership role, helping the industry meet the current and future challenges of network security. In fact, Cisco is offering a practical and valuable solution to address the global shortage of highly-trained IT security experts.

For additional insights about the Global Cybersecurity Scholarship, check out the video below, where David Goeckeler — Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco’s Networking and Security Business Group — and Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, Vice President and General Manager, Cisco Services discuss the scholarship.



For more information about the scholarship program, go to:

For more information about Cisco’s security certifications, go to:


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  1. Although I have studied for the CCNA 1, 2, 3 and 4 a year ago, I’m just about ready to take my ICND1 test hopefully this week after brushing up this last month and a half. I didn’t want to miss out on this fantastic opportunity. Wish me luck :).

  2. I’m overwhelmed by this new initiative by Cisco. I have always been fascinated by Cyber Games on Movies. I really cant wait to be a cyber security superhero myself.

  3. When will potential candidates receive additional information regarding the assessment exam?

  4. This scholarship program would bring a long needed gap-bridge in cyber incidents and tackling cyber security problems in my work space.

  5. I guess the answer is yes, but better ask. Is it possible to apply to the cert without being in the scholarship program?

  6. Hello, is it mandatory to have one of the “Basic technical competency” or could be enough having wide experience in any of that fields?

  7. great initiative! appreciate a lot!

  8. Great initiative. Surely will add value to CyberSecurity domain.

  9. Great initiative. Surely will add value to the CyberSecurity domain.

  10. This is awesome.

    I have been looking at the changes in CCNA curriculum and this is move proving industry leadership. Lets keep Building the workforce of tomorrow. Mentor-ship programs will also go a long way in cementing certifications

    Many thanks!

  11. Great initiative! We need mentor-ship programs too

  12. pls is it allowed for some one to apply for the scholarship more than once?
    cos i applied via my phone but i didn’t get a confirmatory mail so, i don’t know if i should apply again via my system this time? pls i need reply on this issue

  13. Hi Cisco team,

    Curious if applications are now closed for the scholarship program?

  14. Scholarship is nice, but still expensive route for companies and also for interested engineers which will be mostly newcomers into the field of SecOps. What would be much better – if you provide free study materials together with virtual lab. So people don’t need to “steal” i-Os images from you

  15. I would like to know how the training is going to be presented. Is it going to be live classroom, live online, or online recorded video? Thanks.

  16. Does anybody know how long would it take to know if you got the scholarship? (I am asking this, because I just submitted an application).

    This is the link to apply:

    Greetings from El Salvador!!!

  17. Have to say I agree with Abdullah. With the general shortage of security professionals, the only way to get the real world experience we need is to pair up with professionals who are willing to coach and mentor. It is an expense to the company, but not nearly as expensive as the fallout from an inadequately staffed and trained staff.

  18. Very nice Cisco!

  19. This is awesome!
    Thank you for sharing. I have thought for a while about doing a Cyber Security program but I could not afford it.
    As a result of this post, I submitted my application.
    Thank you Cisco for this kind of initiatives.
    Thank you to the person that posted this article!

  20. hello ,I do really like this initiative of cisco,I don’t have any certification in cisco so far but I’m planing to do ccna and ccnp security in india as I’m in india…. My big question is that in which countries the training will be held… thanks

  21. Really great opportunity Cisco is giving the world to be apart. I tip my hat to Cisco for providing a Scholarship for people who interested in furthering they’re expertise in cyber security.

  22. This sounds like a fantastic program and it comes at a great time. Cybersecurity or lack of it are ever present in our daily lives. “Devices are automatically creating 277 times more data than individuals are creating” underscores its importance now and in the future.

  23. hi the link “Sign Up for the Scholarship Today”is inactive but am more than ready to apply for this scholarship. someone help!

  24. Hi

    How many hours a week would this require?

    Thanks a lot!!

  25. Great Course, I want to learn.

  26. Great! I do want to learn

  27. Hi please can you tell me if this is for Americans only? I don’t have any qualifications other than my degree upon graduating this Autumn. I have begun my CCNA study and I have completed a great deal already through my Networking class in college. Thank you in advance.

  28. i pleased to have a chance to be one of Cisco’s family, i got my CCNP Academy certificate recently and willing for more from Cisco,
    I do want to learn Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cyber Ops certification.

  29. That’s a great initiative, it would prove to be very helpful for the people who want to pursue their career in Cyber Security.
    One question,
    how are they going to choose the participants?
    I am fulfilling the criteria, having strong IT background working as a Systems and Network Administrator, having MCTSx4, MCP, MCITP Enterprise, MCSA and CCNA
    but how would they choose?

  30. Any idea of date when Cisco will be attending to our applications ?I just filled mine, waiting for the next steps.Thumbs up !

  31. Great this is exactly what the world needs and industry is demanding.

  32. This is a great program that will get a lot demand. Looking forward to the certification!

  33. Wow, very smart move CISCO that is why you will continue to be leader.
    Leader leads the way the rest follow

  34. It is a very positive step. i am very interested to get the scholarship. And i am looking forward for very positive response.

  35. Just to be clear, am I correct that the requirement is to complete the training in 3 months but does not require anytime off of current employment.

  36. Scholarships are good but apprenticeship with hands on experience with People who already have IT Networking skills and experience in Cyber-security field provides mentor-ship and enthusiasm that scholarships alone can’t provide.

  37. Hello, when will Cisco advise who was admitted into the program?

  38. Good work Cisco, by this students will be encouraged to do career in cybe security

  39. Can anyone apply? Where can I apply?

  40. Great project! I hope participat on that program!

  41. Question, will the training be available online through Cisco Networking academy, if a participant cant attend by traveling to America?

  42. I do not have a computer background.
    I am still in the Marine Corps, infantry Marine, recruiter, and infantry instructor. but I have a degree on Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and I am away from six more classes to obtain my master on business administration and human resource. But when I retire I like to do a career as cyber security. what do I need to do to go into this field.

    • Hello Edwin, You can start your career in CyberSecurity with CompTia A+ and CCENT/CCNA, then you can move forward with specializations such as CCNA Security, CompTia Security, CEH, OSCP.

  43. This will really be a dream come true for me who is aiming for the ccie security in the future. Cyber Ops certification will be a very good solid foundation for me. Great work Cisco, keep it up.

  44. CCIE Security has been my dream all along and the Cyber Ops certification will be such a good way to start. There is no better solid foundation. I can’t wait.

  45. Good Day

    How can we sign up students under an organization name. Bowline would like to sign up qualifying students for this scholarship under Bowline Security in order for Bowline to contribute towards mentoring these students and also provide practical experience for these students once they complete the scholarship program?

  46. Already excited

  47. Really Amazing step of Cisco towards Securing Future of IT Cybersecurity by Introducing CCNA Cybersecurity Operations Certification and I am already CCAN R&S Certified and now excited to take CCNA Cybersecurity Operations Certification.

  48. This is a great development by Cisco. It’s time to take a revolutionary approach towards cybersecurity, IoT and networking. I am anticipating to join the program

  49. Its really good article. is it mandatory CCNA Certificaion? or any CISCO -Security Related Certification is enough? I Have CISCO Green Belt in Security Ninja.Can I Apply this one?

  50. Nice initiative. Really excited about it.

  51. Is this three month timeframe a full time class, or is it at your own pace?

  52. Hello Cisco team, when are you going to publish the winners for this scholarship?

    • Hi Eduardo – This program will last two years starting in August 2016, and participants will be featured in success stories about their participation after completion of the program.

  53. I’d like to have this certification, but I would like to know where the Cisco cert falls when compared to the other security certification from other organizations. With this being a new cert on the market, employers will also probably have the same question.

  54. These promising programs seem like a good long-term investment in addressing the problem of cybersecurity.

    Set decoration question: I noticed the pillow behind David Goeckeler is features a target design. Is this a subliminal message? “Watch out, don’t be a target!” 🙂

  55. This is a great opportunity and I hope to start a new career in this field. A co-op program would be beneficial. What can students expect after the program is completed?

  56. great article and program! Congratulations Cisco!

  57. Looking forward to take the program. With or without the scholarship 😀

  58. Great! I do want to learn Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cyber Ops certification.

  59. I am glad that Cisco created this certification to focus on the future and the current threat we face. I am super excited and can’t wait to jump start on this and start a well focus training program for Cyber security.

  60. Great, Scholarships are a good thing, but you know what would be even better, An Apprenticeship program where People who already have IT Networking skills get to shadow a person with 5+ years of experience in the Cyber-security field to learn from them.