Transforming Students into Professionals to Close the Skills Gap: A Million Dollar Investment

Innovation. It’s at the core of any security breakthrough. Just ask an expert in the crowd gathered at MPOWER, McAfee’s Annual Security Summit. And if you ask me, as McAfee’s SVP and chief human resource officer, innovation is not just how our industry can defend against the growing number of cyberthreats, but also how we solve for the looming talent crisis plaguing our industry.

Our industry faces 2 million openings by 2019 and in the U.S. alone, more than 40,000 cybersecurity roles simply go unfilled every year. Combine this with McAfee’s latest Cyber Security Talent study which reveals 78 percent of cybersecurity professionals believe a cyber skills shortage exists, but 63 percent of those same professionals cannot identify what skills are actually missing, we see not only a gap for talent, but also for consensus on the ideal skillset.

We also know many organizations place a huge demand on cybersecurity professionals with two to three years of experience at a minimum. So how do we close the skills gap, keep pace and identify the specific skills that are missing?

We must innovate.

An Investment in Experience

At the pace of change within cybersecurity, we recognize the need to be more innovative in how we’re creating business-ready cybersecurity professionals. And it’s one reason I was intrigued to hear Australia’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence, Gai Brodtmann, talk about compressed, two-year cybersecurity degrees. It’s in this spirit of creating world-class, experienced, cybersecurity professionals (needed yesterday!) that I had the privilege to announce this week that McAfee will pledge $AUD1 million in cyber education, over three years, to Australian senior high school and tertiary students and graduates.

We know we need to arm current graduates with real-world, practical experience to move them from students to professionals sooner. Our industry demands it. We need to get creative. We need to innovate.

Starting in January 2019, McAfee will open seats to 500-600 high school students (from Years 11-12), TAFE and university students, as well as recent graduates for our existing annual training program for industry professionals. Sessions cover a range of topics from SecOps and instant response forensics to malware analysis.

This unique combination of formal education and hands-on, real-world experience helps students become knowledgeable cybersecurity professionals at a faster rate, making them attractive to employers when they enter the job market.

Doing more to drive exposure and arm future cybersecurity professionals is something I’m incredibly passionate about – not just as McAfee’s SVP and CHRO, but as a mother trying to guide my five children through their education and career choices too.

That’s why my ask to participants in McAfee’s training program is to pay it forward. We won’t close our skills gap overnight, but by working together to collectively promote and advocate for a career in cybersecurity, the closer we will get. So, for cybersecurity graduates, while you’re starting out on your career path, don’t forget ways in which you can inspire the next generation. Be a mentor, volunteer to teach cyber, talk to your nieces and nephews about cybersecurity. Be loud about cybersecurity and take every opportunity to talk about the world of cyber!

For me, I’m looking forward to continuing the discussion on solutions to solve the cyber skills shortage and how to drive innovation with diversity and inclusion at EMEA’s MPOWER on November 28 – November 29.

Are you looking for a meaningful career at an innovative company? I hope you consider McAfee – we need you! Browse jobs today.

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