In response to the burgeoning demand for cybersecurity professionals, Cybrary and Women in Technology (WIT) have formed a pilot program to address this shortage by attracting more women to the cyber profession.
Cybrary, which offers a free massive open online course for IT and cybersecurity professionals, recently announced a pilot program with WIT, a not-for-profit organization that advances women in technology, to help more women break into cybersecurity and advance in their current jobs by utilizing Cybrary’s enterprise training platform.
“The pilot program between WIT and Cybrary is an important one,” Ryan Corey, co-founder of Cybrary, told Homeland Security Today. “We have donated our platform to other non-profits, but this one helps to immediately impact the skills gap, as well as break barriers to entry for many women, which is currently underrepresented in cybersecurity.”
Spurred by the rising number and sophistication of cyberattacks, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing four times faster than the overall IT job market, and 12 times faster than the total labor market, according to a March 2014 report by Boston-based Burning Glass International Inc.
However, women make up less than 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce.
“Just based on enrollment in classes I ran at my previous employer, women made up less than 10 percent of cybersecurity class enrollment,” Corey said. “I believe the number will definitely change in the coming years, given that the skills gap is as wide as it is and that the opportunity to learn is now free and open.”
Last year, Homeland Security Today reported on a study by the RAND Corporation that revealed attracting more women to the cybersecurity field could help address the rising need for more skilled cybersecurity professionals.
To remedy the lack of women in the field, Cybrary will now provide WIT members with access to their growing catalog of free IT and cyber security courses and content. Cybrary’s enterprise training platform is designed to help organizations and government agencies provide and manage cybersecurity courses and training programs for their employees.
Many of the courses are enterprise specific and tailored to meet a number of different industry compliances including the Federal Information Security Management Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Healthcare IT, Department of Defense Information Assurance Risk ManagementFramework, Federal IT Security Institute and more.
WIT members will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on-training and mentors can actively track the progress of participants by receiving reports and notifications on how trainees are progressing on learning objectives.
“The training on the platform gives anyone, at any stage in their career the ability to take classes that can help advance them to the next level,” Corey said. “From entry level technical, advanced technical, management and even executive cyber security classes, WIT now has access to all of these, and we believe that this will help move people forward in their career.”
Cybrary’s enterprise training platform will also support a collaboration between WIT’s Workforce Development Committee and CyberSecurity Special Interest Group, the expansion of Girls in Technology CyberGirls training for the CyberPatriot High School Competition, and support of the Cornerstone initiative, which helps to bring computer literacy to refugee women.
Phyllis Kolmus, immediate past president at WIT and deputy director OSD Programs at AT&T, said WIT was approached by CyberPatriot, the Air Force Associations’s premier high school cybersecurity competition, to help them address a gender diversity gap and introduce this opportunity to girls. As a result, WIT started its CyberPatriot Girls initiative and has grown it from 2 pilot schools to 9.
Commenting on the participation of young women in high school in cyber training, Corey said, “Starting to learn at that early age, means that the result will be very talented women entering the workforce more highly equipped with advanced skill sets, which will distinguish them from peers.”
With predictions that cybersecurity is going to be the fastest growing homeland security market, according to a report released by ASD Reports last year, it is crucial that public and private sector organizations take steps to address the major shortage of cyber professionals.
“Cyber is important to everyone, whether you are a cyber professional, running your own business, an executive in a company or on a board of directors,” Kolmus said. “Having this hands-on background positions girls to have options as they move forward in life.”