Thinking Global and Acting Local to Close the Skills Gap
Cybersecurity empowers organizations to enable trust, move faster, add value and grow. In order for cybersecurity to live up to that promise, it will require an increase in talent and new skills to take on the volume and sophistication of today’s threat landscape. According to industry analysts, there will be a global shortage of two million cybersecurity professionals as early as next year. If not addressed, it could grow to three and a half million by 2021. With the threat landscape as diverse as ever, we’ll need to create a global cybersecurity workforce as diverse as ever. Like many challenges of this size and scope, success will depend on our ability to execute on a local level but also to share best practices on a global level.
With that in mind, there are many ongoing efforts that are chipping away at the global workforce challenge. We should be proud of the individuals and organizations alike who are working hard to bolster cybersecurity education and training in their own communities. It is something to be celebrated and inspired by!
Start in Your Own Backyard
Today, in my home state of North Carolina, I am excited to share the latest extension of the CyberVetsUSA initiative; a free cybersecurity training program for eligible veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses, and members of the Reserves and National Guard who are interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career. In collaboration with State Government, Cisco has joined industry partners and competitors alike, to create this program that will help connect veterans to over 18,000 of the available IT jobs in North Carolina.
Create New Pathways for Newcomers
Our teammates from Cisco Australia have started a program to encourage more females to join the cybersecurity industry called MentorMe, a six-month program that pairs female university students across Australia with a Cisco mentor (mentors are both women and men). For those of us already in the industry, this is our role to play! Participating in a mentorship is one of the ways we can open the door and introduce newcomers to various cybersecurity career paths.
Partner with Existing Educational Programs
Cisco Germany is one of several technology company partnering with the ReDi School, an education non-profit that teaches refuges IT-skills, gives them job training, and pairs them with mentors who work in the tech industry. These types of partnerships are a win-win for both the public and private sectors. This program will help fill the estimated 51,000 open IT jobs in Germany as well as help the country reach its ambitious digital acceleration goals.
To Support Diverse Events, Invest in Diverse Minds
In an effort to train talent that will support Tokyo 2020 and develop the next generation of cybersecurity professionals in Japan, our local Cisco team has launched a Cyber Security Talent initiative program. Using a combination of Cisco Net Academy curriculum, coupled with on-the-job training opportunities, the program is honing in on creating more female engineering talent in Japan. This same model is also being applied to second career retraining opportunities locally.
The talent shortage numbers may look scary and there is a lot of work to do still. Yet, there are reasons to be hopeful. Since we started teaching cybersecurity courses at the Cisco Net Academy five years ago, nearly half a million students have been served, with 32% of those in just the past year demonstrating an encouraging and growing interest. In fact, we had 238% growth in students participating in cybersecurity courses during the FY17-FY18 fiscal year alone.
This progress, with the addition of the many efforts happening round the world and amazing people who are leading the way, inspire me on a daily basis. My challenge to my readers: there are likely activities happening in your local community. Don’t wait to be invited…find a program, get involved and be inspired.