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How training industry newcomers and school students can deal with the ICT security skills shortage

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How training industry newcomers and school students can deal with the ICT security skills shortage
Security training can continue after internal placements have finished via remotely accessed learning resources.
Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Australia’s ICT sector has long bemoaned the severe skills shortage within the industry, but the events of 2020 have managed to further exacerbate the situation. According to the government’s 2019-20 figures, Software and Applications developers were second in demand, only to Registered nurses. On top of this, three other ICT categories - Database and Systems Administrators, ICT Security Specialists and Business Systems Analysts plus Computer Network Professionals - made the Top 25 list of most in-demand professions. Globally, the demand for talent within the IT security space is in the region of two million people. This theme is regularly reflected throughout CRN’s Channel Academy.

COVID-19 has led to around 70 per cent of the world’s office-based workforce having to Work From Home (WFH). This has highlighted the requirement for networks to be simultaneously robust and secure – something that cyber criminals have increasingly been taking advantage of. So, what are we to do in the new threat landscape?

Exclusive Networks believes that distributors need to be supported by vendors to build (and improve existing) infrastructure, within the channel, that enables channel partners to educate all stakeholders (and potential staff) about cyber security issues and to keep them up to date. Consequently, we operate many, accredited training centres for many of our vendors. We run many free and paid workshops that offer training and certification to help partners and end users gain skills that enable them to stay relevant within the rapidly changing market.

Our programs operate across two pathways. The first involves upskilling people who already operate within the industry, using traditional training methods. The second involves training people who are brand new to the industry and who may have no experience. Anna Christensen heads up the latter.

Training brand new security professionals in the channel

Anna runs internships for young people: those in their 20s and out of high school. These have, so far, included people looking for their first job or who are wanting to change their career. She is also taking part in schools’ work placement programs whereby students can come and spend their two weeks working with us. In both instances, we aim to teach learners what cyber security, cloud and unified communications are all about. Our goal is to get them to understand that IT is an excellent career path and one that they can enter pretty quickly. We also want to give them opportunities within the organisation.

We typically start them in the marketing department but that, by no means, locks them into a career in marketing. It’s a great place to start as they learn about the whole company structure relatively quickly. They’ll ultimately get to work in every department. While the nature of these programs means that they’re not allowed to work directly on customer projects, they get to see how they’re done and work in mock scenarios that mimic them. We’ve subsequently onboarded employees in our sales, technical and marketing teams using this strategy.

Training can continue after internal placements have finished via our remotely accessed learning resources. Even if they don’t end up working directly for Exclusive Networks, we show them how they can set up an ABN and use LinkedIn to go on and work as a freelancer within the industry. We also like to use LinkedIn to monitor them and see how their career path is progressing: hopefully, after leaving us, we can work with them again down the line.

If you’d like to know more or get involved with Exclusive Networks training contact Anna Christensen via LinkedIn.

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