Upskilling and Expanding the Australian Cyber Security Workforce
CyberCX is proud to release this ground-breaking research quantifying the shape of Australia’s cyber skills gap, and examining pathways to address this critical shortage.
Our research partner, independent think tank Per Capita, is dedicated to fighting inequality in Australia.
They work to build a new vision for Australia based on fairness, shared prosperity, community, and social justice.
Upskilling and Expanding the Australian Cyber
Security Workforce: An Introduction
Australia is experiencing a critical skills shortage across the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, but the most significant skills shortage appears to be in the increasingly important cyber Security sector. While this shortage is not necessarily unique to Australia, given the significant increase in workforce size and capability needed in the short and medium term, it is arguably a significant economic and national security concern. A major study of technical professionals and educators identified cyber security as the most significant technical skill shortage globally (Pluralsight, 2022). This international contestation will result in competition for migrant talent within key markets where here is no dearth of talent.
While the number of students undertaking degrees and diplomas has grown in aggregate terms, the increase has not kept pace with the emerging needs of the sector, particularly as the increase in candidate numbers skews largely to international student enrolees. Addressing this skills shortage, given the highly technical nature of the work, is not possible through any singular approach. The nature of this shortage necessitates a coordinated approach, and one that includes a re-evaluation of the traditional approach to technical education.
Alternative approaches are needed to hasten our response to the existing and emerging skills shortages, involving greater investment in both existing learning pathways and emerging supplementary pathways. The tertiary sector continues to grow the talent pool but, given the technical and highly applied nature of many aspects of cyber security work, professional and practical experience is highly valuable. Supplementary models such as the increasingly popular bootcamp/intensive model and the cyber security firm based ‘academy’ model represent viable additions to the cyber security education framework.
These alternatives supplement the core vocational and higher education offerings, and support more rapid reskilling of individuals from different technical and non-technical fields. They are a viable supplement to, and articulation pathway from, existing vocational and tertiary programs.
Given the Australian Signals Directorate’s critical REDSPICE initiative that seeks to dramatically increase Australia’s cyber defence capability, the need for a significant increase in the size of the domestic talent pool is substantial. Crucially, there needs to be a particular emphasis placed on the technical capability that are necessary in a genuine shift away from the traditional linear learning approach to upskilling and reskilling to a more Dialectic Learning approach, that supports expedient movement between sources of skill-based training.
The report models the shortfall within the cyber security workforce, forecasting the anticipated increase in the size of the workforce needed by 2026. The report examines sector demographic and retirement trends, and technical requirements needed to contribute viably to the sector. The report then outlines an alternative approach to upskilling and reskilling, involving more expedient movement between. The report also considers the supplementary role of targeted migration in addressing technical skills shortages.
The Australian workforce possess the necessary talent to address the shortfall if adequate investment in upskilling and reskilling is made, while acknowledging he need for a targeted program of migration to supplement the investment in domestic capability.
Key Report Findings
Over the next four years, the shortfall of qualified cyber security professionals is forecast to hit 30,000 unfilled positions across Australia.
Universities and TAFEs are unlikely, on their own, to deliver the required qualified graduates to the sector.
Immigration will play a key role in closing the skills gap, alongside increased domestic investment in cyber skills training.
Industry sponsored Academy-style programs are showing great promise.
This industry-leading research, its findings, and its recommendations, are timely and important. As Australian organisations increasingly embrace digital transformation, we need to ensure we have the workforce capability to meet our nation’s cyber security needs, now and into the future.
Government, industry and academia must work in partnership to develop and expand pathways for a more diverse group of Australians to move into this exciting industry where there are an increasing number of smart, secure jobs being created and going unfilled.
CyberCX Chief Executive Officer
The CyberCX Academy
Training the next generation of cyber security experts
In response to the chronic skills crunch, CyberCX recently launched the CyberCX Academy, the largest private sector training academy for cyber security professionals in Australia.
This model has been endorsed as part of the solution to Australia’s cyber skills crisis by PerCapita’s independent report.
The CyberCX Academy is open to university and TAFE graduates, school leavers and people looking to cross-train or re-enter the workforce.
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