IBM Invests in “New Collar” Cybersecurity Workforce Training

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IBM announced several investments and projects on Tuesday as parts of a new cybersecurity skills initiative to address the projected shortage of cybersecurity workers, which Frost & Sullivan estimates to reach 1.8 million by 2022.

The initiative will promote what IBM calls a “’new collar’ cybersecurity workforce strategy” which is designed to reach a broader range of employees based on skills, experience and aptitudes as opposed to focusing on degrees alone.

See also: Two-Thirds of Companies Lack Overall Cybersecurity Policy

As part of the initiative, IBM announced a new collaboration with the open cybersecurity training program Hacker Highschool, and continued investment in Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) and other alternative education and training programs. IBM also plans to provide resources such as a whitepaper on workforce skills development.

The company says nearly one in five employees hired since 2015 by IBM Security are “new collar” workers.

“The cybercrime landscape is evolving rapidly, yet many organizations are still approaching their cybersecurity education and hiring in the same way they were 20 years ago,” Marc van Zadelhoff, General Manager of IBM Security said in a statement. “The truth is that many of the critical cybersecurity roles we need to fill don’t require a traditional four-year technical degree. Industry leaders need to take an active part in resolving the talent issues we’re facing, by investing in new models and extending the pipeline to focus on hands-on skills and experience over degrees alone.”

See also: Report: Cybersecurity Job Market Strongest in Israel, Ireland

IBM will provide Hacker Highschool with sponsorship, guidance, and IBM Security tools for a new lesson teaching skills for the job of entry-level security operations center (SOC) analyst, which IBM says is in particularly high demand. It will also provide IBM Security QRadar software to give students hands-on experience with the deep security analytics tool. The company’s advice to businesses attempting to address security hiring challenges includes redefining hiring models and expanding recruiting to a wider range of educational institutions.

Women make up only 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, according to a report released in March, indicating another possible way to make up the skilled worker shortfall. IBM said last year it would begin deploying Watson for cybersecurity in beta production.

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