IT Brief Australia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Google launches Cybersecurity Certificate in Australia amid talent gap
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

In response to an escalating threat landscape, Google has launched its Cybersecurity Certificate in Australia, aiming to address the nation's shortfall of approximately 40,000 skilled cybersecurity practitioners. Google’s Senior Director Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, expressed the urgency of this initiative, highlighting that cyber attacks are of prime concern for Australian businesses. He noted that the Australian Cyber Security Centre reported over 94,000 instances of cybercrime during the financial year 2022-23, marking a frightening 23% increase from the preceding year, reminding us that this places crucial infrastructure, such as government institutions and hospitals, at a significantly higher risk.

The nationally launched Google Cybersecurity Certificate provides affordable career paths along with local partnerships in fields like data analytics, IT support, and business intelligence. The certificate forms part of Google's Digital Future Initiative: a $1 billion investment in promoting a stronger digital presence for all Australians. This investment addresses the increasingly evident need to cultivate a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce, with the certificate being expertly developed and taught by Google's own cybersecurity professionals.

The program serves as a gateway to entry-level jobs in cybersecurity, requiring no prior experience and promising learners industry readiness in less than six months. Google hopes to lend impetus to job creation and enable a larger pool of Australians to fill the gaping number of cyber roles. Lucinda Longcroft, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Google Australia and New Zealand, extended the conversation highlighting an opportunity to increase industry diversity. CSVs, female, Indigenous, elder, and youth workers remain largely underrepresented in the Australian cybersecurity section where the median salary is AUD$107,000, she informed.

To bridge this gap and bring more diverse talent into cybersecurity, organisations such as Generation Australia and ACS are lending their support. They will help connect communities with the Google Cybersecurity Certificate course, offer free scholarships for increased accessibility, and also accompany learners with support for professional coaching, networking opportunities, and job search assistance. Google’s Career Certificates were first introduced in Australia in 2022. Since then, as Huntley reports, more than 4,500 people have benefited from these certificates, with a striking 80% of graduates reporting a positive career impact within half a year of completion. Moreover, 35% of these graduates were either unemployed or underemployed when they started with the certificate program.

The Google Cybersecurity Certificate equips learners to identify common risks, threats, and vulnerabilities, providing them with hands-on experience of industry-standard tools, including Python and Linux. This will prepare learners for the industry-leading certification for cybersecurity roles; the CompTIA Security+ exam. Completing both will earn learners a dual credential, improving their hireability.

Coinciding with this, the Google Career Certificates Employer Consortium was established in 2022, aimed at collaborating with relevant partners to close skills gaps and connect Australians with in-demand jobs. Members of this consortium, which include household names like Accenture and Australia Post, consider applicants who have earned these certificates for entry-level positions. To ensure that certificate graduates match the expectations of employers with open entry-level roles, the cybersecurity teams of several consortium members beta tested the program content and provided vital feedback.

We are reminded of the immediacy of this issue, with cybercrime reportedly costing Australia up to $42 billion in the past financial year. Google remains committed to strengthening partnerships with government, businesses, NGOs, academia, and others, forging a workforce furnished with the necessary expertise to offer resilience against cyber attacks and foster a safer Australia.