Optus is doing its bit to bridge the cyber skills shortage in Australia, partnering with US-based education platform provider LifeJourney to deliver an interactive experience to students that could propel them into a career in cyber security.
The Optus Cyber Security Experience program, supported by Macquarie University, La Trobe University and Deakin University, is an online cyber education program for secondary schools, TAFE and universities designed to help educators introduce students to what’s quickly becoming the No 1 technology-driven career pathway.
Cyber security specialists are hot property with demand coming from every major corporate sector and public agencies and Optus Business’s vice-president for business technology services, David Caspari, said supply was currently woefully inadequate across the globe.
Tackling this shortfall, according to Mr Caspari, will require corporations, government and education institutions to work together.
“No one can really do this alone we need collaboration given the size of the gap,” he told The Australian.
The program delivers one of Australia’s first free online national cyber security education courses, allowing students to experience a day in the life of Optus cyber experts and get first-hand experience of dealing with a cyber attack.
It also provides a Cyber Teacher Certification program so the nation’s ICT, mathematics and science teachers can deliver cyber security learnings to their students.
Barker College on Sydney’s north shore is the first secondary school to sign up to the Optus Cyber Security Experience.
One important aspect of the training, according to Mr Caspari, is to understand that cyber resiliency relies on a combination of technology and risk management skills.
The program is designed to expose students to the full gamut of expertise required to deal with the threat landscape.
David Wilkinson, deputy vice-chancellor (corporate engagement and advancement) at Macquarie University, said students and career advisers did not fully realise the range of options available in the cyber security space.
“STEM is just part of the foundation, the real challenge is to develop flexible and critical thinkers and prepare graduates equipped to meet the needs of the workplace,” Mr Wilkinson said.
LifeJourney chief executive Rick Geritz said the deal with Optus brought a unique simulation-based training into schoolrooms.
“There’s no textbook for cybersecurity,” Mr Geritz said.
“We use a little bit of Hollywood, a little bit of storytelling to give the students a chance to tackle the problem from every angle.”
He added that, while today’s children were deeply immersed in technology, that did not mean they fully understood how technology worked.
The Optus-led program has a strong discovery element as the essential architecture is explained to students.
“We reverse-engineer the skills of the professionals and turn them into a walking curriculum,” Mr Geritz said.
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