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ACT Pilot program creating job-ready cyber experts

Published: 15 Nov 2023

The first graduates of the Closing the Cyber Skills Gap - Work-Integrated-Learning pilot will help address a critical shortage of professionals needed to safeguard the ACT's digital environment.

The first graduates of the Closing the Cyber Skills Gap - Work-Integrated-Learning pilot, a pioneering collaborative training program, were celebrated this week as job-ready cyber experts who will bridge the skills gap and bolster Canberra's cyber security workforce.

The pilot program includes a four-week Power-Skills Bootcamp and four micro-credentials, providing a combination of hands-on training, theoretical knowledge, and industry-focused collaboration to quickly equip pilot interns with the skills needed in the rapidly evolving world of cyber security.

With a projected deficit of over 18,000 cyber experts in Australia by 2026 (AustCyber 2020), proactive measures are imperative. The pilot program was initiated in March of this year through a pioneering collaboration between the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), Canberra Cyber Hub, the Future Skills Organisation (FSO), and private training organisations.

Christine Robertson - Interim CEO of CIT said "In a world where technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, the need for cyber security professionals has never been greater. It is imperative that we have a skilled workforce capable of safeguarding our digital infrastructure. This pilot program was designed with this urgent need in mind. This pilot was a method to test new ways to bring more people into the cyber workforce, and to meet significant skills gaps in the industry."

Patrick Kidd - CEO, Future Skills Organisation said that the demand for cyber professionals far exceeds the current supply. "This project is a great example of how you can work with employers to define needs and produce courses that are relevant to people who are mid-career. The pilot has been an interesting insight into models that can be scaled as we go forward to address this urgent need."

Canberra Cyber Hub Chair, Dr Michael Frater said that Canberra cyber companies were asked to identify not only the skills needed now, but the skills needed for life-long learning. "We did this to ensure a relevant career is maintained in this ever-changing industry, and through the response of this program we have found an innovative path forward to help close the cyber skills gap."

Participating employers expressed how students had seamlessly integrated into their organisations, demonstrating their competence and readiness to tackle the challenges of today's cyber landscape.

Ken Hendrie, CEO and Founder, Cyconsol said: "We are in an industry where it is difficult to find high-quality candidates. The benefit gained from the Work-Integrated-Learning pilot delivered by the Canberra Cyber Hub has been invaluable."

Students, especially those with no prior cyber security experience before the pilot, said they had benefited greatly from the program.

Mai Ann Sanchez, an intern at Castlepoint Systems said: "I loved every bit of this program. The teachers made it easy to understand the foundations of Cyber Security, - their knowledge and experience was unbelievable."

The pilot is currently being reviewed to determine how the program may be delivered in the future to make an impactful contribution to closing the cyber skills gap.