Australia’s demand for cyber skills a matter of urgency

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Demand for computer security experts will grow by more than 20% over the next five years.  Cyber security relies on the right people and expertise, and as a result, there is a greater demand for professionals.

The Commonwealth Bank has been working with the Federal Government to position Australia as an exporter of cyber capacity.

Cyber security

“It’ll come back to a long-term strategy around encouraging school children to be taking up the subjects that will allow them to go do STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at university,” said David Whiteing, Chief Information Officer at the Commonwealth Bank.

Cyber security skills needed… now

Innovation and science are key for Australia to deliver new sources of growth and maintain high-wage jobs, and the Government has taken action.

A number of measures have been announced by the Prime Minister, as part of his $1.1 billion innovation policy.

The policy, which aims to boost jobs and economic growth, will also make it easier for postgraduate researchers with qualifications in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and information technology to move to Australia.  This will be part of an “enhanced pathway” to permanent residency, to be introduced next year.

So what skills are sought after, in the cyber security and ICT sector?

ICT sector workforce requirements

Boosting Australia’s cyber security skills will be a long-term effort.  According to the CSO, the up-skilling will require fundamental, cultural shifts in areas such as education of students in cyber security issues – including better maths education – to support research in areas such as cryptography.

Programming, coding, computer science and digital literacy are key skills needed in the ICT sector.  Analytical skills, attention to detail, articulating complex concepts, diagnostic skills and ability to adapt are also important.

Australian companies are also taking action to develop the ICT skills of their employees.

Cisco Australia has announced a STEM skills development program called AUSTEM 2020, into which Cisco will invest up to $31 million over five years.  Under this program, Cisco delivers training to 100,000 high school and university students in the field of cloud, cyber security and internet of things (IoT).

As the cyber security industry evolves at a lightening speed, so do the skill requirements.  Cyber security skill development needs to focus both on the upcoming generations, but also on connecting private and public-sector companies – so professionals can be used when there’s a crisis.

If you’d like to chat about workforce development strategies in your business or industry, please contact Wendy Perry via

February 2016

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