Cisco Intros $10 Million Global Cyber Security Scholarship Program

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Cisco recently announced plans to invest $10 million in a two-year Global Cybersecurity Scholarship program in an effort to increase the pool of available talent with proficiency in cyber security.

The program will offer training, mentoring and certification in partnership with Cisco Authorized Learning Partners in order to qualify participants for the position of security operations center analyst.

"Cybersecurity is essential to digital success," Cisco Services vice president and general manager Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn said in a statement. "Many CEOs across the globe tell us their ability to innovate is hampered by their security concerns in the digital world. This creates a big future demand for skill sets that don’t exist at scale today."

In response, Beliveau-Dunn said, Cisco developed the scholarship program in order to jumpstart the development of new talent. "This includes the opportunity to help diversify the IT security industry by reaching people around the world including veterans, women and those early in their careers, to inspire them to enter the cybersecurity profession," she said. "This is just a start to help us educate, train and reskill the job force to become the security IT professionals needed to help address this vast talent shortage."

A recent CloudPassage study found that none of the top 10 U.S. computer science programs as ranked in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report requires a single cyber security course for graduation, and only one of the top 36 does so -- the computer science program at the University of Michigan.

Three of the top 10 university computer science programs, the study found, don't even offer an elective course in cyber security. And among a total of 121 university computer science programs studied, the University of Alabama is the only one to require three or more cyber security classes -- three for an information systems degree, and four for a computer science degree.

"I wish I could say these results are shocking, but they’re not," CloudPassage CEO Robert Thomas said in a statement. "With more than 200,000 open cybersecurity jobs in 2015 in the U.S. alone and the number of threat surfaces exponentially increasing, there’s a growing skills gap between the bad actors and the good guys. One way to close the gap is through automation, but we also need to train developers, at the very earliest stage of their education, to bake security into all new code. It’s not good enough to tack cybersecurity on as an afterthought any more."

"Our research reinforces what many have been saying: there is an incredible IT security skills gap," Thomas added. "But what we’ve revealed is that a major root cause is a lack of education and training at accredited schools."

Last fall, a survey of 3,871 adults worldwide, commissioned by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), found that the U.S. has the world gender gap in the world in terms of interest in cyber security as a career. Fifty-five percent of men and 69 percent of women said no teacher or career counselor had even mentioned the idea of a career in cyber security to them.

"There seems to be latent interest in cyber careers, as half of young adults say believing in the mission of their employer is important and 63 percent say making money is important," NCSA executive director Michael Kaiser said in a statement at the time. "Cybersecurity jobs offer a clear path to both -- we just need to do a better job of spreading the word."