First launched in the US last year, the initiative aims to fill a significant skills gap in the cybersecurity space.
Microsoft is expanding its cybersecurity skills campaign beyond the US to 23 additional countries, including Ireland, to meet growing demand for professionals and increase diversity in the industry.
The initiative is a response to the global skills shortage in the cybersecurity space where, according to Microsoft, one in every three job postings are left unfilled.
In Ireland, around 10,000 more cybersecurity professionals are needed to plug a skills gap, according to a report published by non-profit cybersecurity network (ISC)2 last October. Microsoft data also suggests that demand for skills in the sector has increased by 21pc in Ireland over the past year.
First launched in the US last year, the Microsoft cybersecurity skills campaign partners with 135 community colleges to prepare professionals for this industry. It aims to add 250,000 people into the US cybersecurity workforce by 2025.
Now, the initiative is expanding to almost two dozen new countries, including Ireland, India, Brazil, Japan, France, Australia and the UK, identified as having “elevated cybersecurity risks” coupled with a cybersecurity worker shortage and lack of diversity in the sector.
Kate Behncken, VP and lead for Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a company blog post that there will be 3.5m cybersecurity jobs open globally by 2025, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, representing a 350pc increase over an eight-year period.
“Cybersecurity continues to be a significant threat for governments, businesses and individuals around the world. From supply chain disruptions to ransomware attacks, cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated and the threat landscape more diverse,” she wrote.
A key goal of the programme is to ensure that “traditionally excluded populations” such as women have opportunities to enter the cybersecurity workforce, which is “woefully lacking in diversity”. In the 23 countries the campaign is expanding to, Microsoft said that on average only 17pc of the cybersecurity workforce are women.
“Leaving women out of the cybersecurity workforce leaves talent on the table and will only hurt our ability to close the skills gap. This isn’t just about equality, there’s a business case too: gender-diverse businesses perform better,” Behncken went on.
Microsoft plans to work with local schools, non-profits, governments and businesses in these countries to help advance the skilling programme and increase diversity, customising the programme in a way that “fits the unique needs of their own market”.
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