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Tertiary cyber education key to national security strategy

The Australian Information Security Association (AISA) has called on the Australian government to undertake an urgent review into the higher education sector’s cyber security courses as a key component of their planned national cyber security strategy.

user icon Nastasha Tupas
Wed, 12 Oct 2022
Tertiary cyber education key to national security strategy
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Leading the push is Damien Manuel, chair of AISA who noted that there is "no oversight" into cyber security degrees and courses offered at Australian institutions.

"This isn’t going to prepare our next generation of cyber security specialists to deal with an ever-changing threat environment.

“In addition, if you are a young person looking to study a cyber security course, there is no way of objectively comparing different institutions to ensure you are getting value for your investment.

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"The Australian government has a role to play to ensure we are building and evaluating courses that are relevant to industry and able to place job-ready cyber professionals upon graduation," Manuel said.

After Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neil scrapped the previous government’s 2020 AU$1.7 billion 10-year Cyber Security Strategy, following an announcement that it will be recast with a greater focus on building sovereign cyber capabilities and workforce skills, but Manuel argues that this is a good opportunity for review as institutions have been "simply adding cyber units to IT degrees" and branding them as cyber security courses.

"Students need courses to be updated on a yearly basis rather than the typical four-to-five-year cycle," Manuel added.

The industry welcomed the news, as it is facing severe skills shortage and needs an additional 7,000 qualified cyber security specialists over the next two years based on AustCyber 2021 data.

While Australia’s education sector has recognised this shortage and is launching new cyber security degrees and courses, AISA is calling for urgent government direction to ensure their courses are fit-for-purpose and producing job-ready cyber professionals with clear pathways to employment, to boost sovereign capabilities.

"Private enterprise is currently filling the education shortfalls by creating their own specialist cyber training courses to fast-track talent from outside the cyber security sector into these specialist roles.

"While this is one part of the solution, a holistic education approach is urgently required.

"One that meets and delivers the skill set required by industry and ensures students have pathways into the various cyber security roles available in industry and government," Manuel further explained.

Greater collaboration and integration are needed between universities, TAFEs, and industry and is also a key step towards integrating the higher education sector as part of their new cyber security strategy.

“We would also welcome Australian government tax incentives to support business to take on and train cyber graduates with an IT background.

"I would love to see a system like that expanded to enable people in other fields cross over and establish a career in cyber security.

"Imagine the benefits of having cyber security professionals with backgrounds in law, policy, humanities, sciences and psychology," Manuel noted.

AISA would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the new Australian government on the best approach to developing a strategy that is practical and agile.

"We stand ready to support the government to develop cyber security as a sovereign capability, building the capacity of professionals in Australia.

"The recasting of the cyber security strategy presents the opportunity to review the education sector and provide much needed direction and governance to ensure we are rising to meet this challenge," Manuel concluded.

[Related: Black Sky Aerospace eyes enhanced cyber security posture]

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

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