Three people stand socially distanced in a dark room.
From left: Dr Eoin Byrne, Cyber Ireland cluster manager; Prof Donna O’Shea, chair of cybersecurity at MTU; and Jacqueline Kehoe, Cyber Skills project manager at MTU. Image: John Allen

€8m project aims to tackle cybersecurity skills gap in Ireland

2 Jun 2021

The Cyber Skills project aims to develop courses that will provide a clear path to specific roles in the growing cybersecurity sector.

A new project aims to address the critical skills shortage when it comes to cybersecurity professionals in Ireland.

The Cyber Skills project is a collaborative initiative led by Munster Technological University (MTU). Academic partners include TU Dublin, University of Limerick, University College Dublin and the US-based Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.

It aims to create innovative cybersecurity courses through collaborations with enterprise, research entities and these national and international academic partners.

The idea is that these will provide learners with a clear path to a specific job role, covering the areas of secure network operations, secure software development and secure software architecture.

These three areas of focus were developed with Dell Technologies and Mastercard.

The project is led by Prof Donna O’Shea, who is chair of cybersecurity at MTU. She said that it is “essential” to develop new academic cybersecurity courses that are focused on, and aligned to, industry needs.

“In an increasingly complex threat landscape, cybersecurity professionals are a company’s best line of defence,” O’Shea added.

“Therefore, it is vital to work together as academic institutions with the aim of keeping ahead of cybercriminals in a fast-changing technological environment.”

The €8m Cyber Skills project is funded by the Higher Education Authority through its Human Capital Initiative. The plan is to continue engaging with other industries to ensure that courses can provide industry-focused and research-informed cybersecurity skills.

‘No quick fix’

The cybersecurity skills shortage is an issue that has been raised in Ireland and around the world in recent years.

Security issues during the pandemic and the recent HSE cyberattack have further highlighted the need for professionals with the right skillsets in this rapidly changing sector.

The areas of focus in the new Cyber Skills project are based on a recent Cyber Ireland report, which identified key areas where skills shortages exist.

Dr Eoin Byrne, cluster manager of Cyber Ireland, said there is “no quick fix” to addressing these skills shortages.

“But a sustained long-term strategy is needed to develop homegrown cybersecurity talent in Ireland, which is the reason why the Cyber Skills project is so important nationally.”

Other initiatives have also been launched recently in an attempt to address this skills gap. IT Sligo is rolling out a new networks and cybersecurity course, while Cork-based Smarttech247 started an infosec graduate programme this year.

Sarah Harford
By Sarah Harford

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic for three and a half years.

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