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World-first programme provides Kiwis a career in cyber security

Through its world-first ‘Boost Programme’, Global technology leader Cisco is helping New Zealand women who have been displaced by the pandemic pivot a career in the cyber security industry.

The cyber security workforce shortage is well known and has been deemed one of the key threats of the next decade by the World Economic Forum. As an industry that is rapidly evolving and becoming a high priority, diversity in skills is key and more women are needed. Around 100,000 people are employed in ICT roles across New Zealand, and only 20,000 of these are women.

“Cybersecurity is a fast-paced industry with a huge skills shortfall and many exciting job opportunities,” says Cisco’s New Zealand Country Manager, Leanne Buer.

“In piloting Cisco’s Boost Program in New Zealand we are aiming to open the door to the industry and offer participants with the opportunity to re-skill, experience industry mentoring and build on the critical skills that many women have mastered throughout their careers.”

New Zealand’s field of cyber security covers various career pathways and supports those with the knowhow into more technical cybersecurity roles including cybersecurity analyst and cybersecurity operations.Throughout the course of four weeks, the tailored ‘Boost Programme’ will provide self-paced virtual learning, mentoring and industry certification, to help women impacted by the pandemic succeed in the roles above.

“Skills such as problem solving and customer service experience are hugely valuable in the world of cybersecurity. If you are someone interested in technology, with basic digital skills, if you’re curious and committed and enjoy working through problems then cybersecurity may be just the right career for you,” says Buer.

The programme has already gained 150 individuals who have been displaced in their careers due to the pandemic. One participant who is fascinated by the breadth of relevance for cybersecurity and is loving the programme so far is Sophie Walker.

Before 2020, Walker was working in tourism – an industry that was turned on its head as much of the world was impacted by the pandemic. She then went on maternity leave in November 2020 and has since put her tourism business into hibernation. With the end of maternity leave approaching in April this year, Walker was keen to take this time to learn new skills and explore opportunities outside of the tourism sector and venture into cyber security.

“I have found so many new terms and concepts to learn and very few are familiar,” she says.

“It feels good to now know what these tech phrases mean, how they can be applied to everyday life and to go through this process knowing I’ll be more educated in a different field. I’ll have more skills, a heightened awareness of how to be safe on the Internet and a chance to work in Cybersecurity in just a few weeks’ time!”

The tailored program runs four weeks and includes:

● 45 hours of virtual self-paced learning with access to Cisco’s Networking Academy modules including the Introduction to Cybersecurity and Cybersecurity Essentials. Cisco’s Master Security specialising training module, Fire Jumper is also included. Cisco’s Networking Academy provides the latest technical learning and curriculum, and is recognised across the industry and globally

● Six speakers from the cybersecurity industry sharing their insights and career journeys, as well as networking opportunities

● A cybersecurity mentor, with direct access to experts in the field for a power hour a week

● Access to employment skills support such as job opportunities through Cisco’s talent bridge (which connects job seekers to roles via a matching engine), CV writing and LinkedIn review workshops

● High performers in the program will be given the opportunity to advance further, with sponsorship to become certified completing the Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate, as well as access to Cisco’s Black Belt Academy program covering multi-factor authentication (Duo), Cloud, and SASE and interviews with Cisco and Cisco partners for open cybersecurity positions (this is an additional 4-6 week commitment).

The pilot intake of the program runs until April, with the next intake to commence in August, 2021.

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