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IBM announces cyber security workforce training

In the face of a projected shortage of technicians in the cyber security field, IBM has announced a new skills initiative. It is designed to reach more potential employees by targeting trainable skills and aptitudes, while deemphasizing academic training. The program is, according to IBM’s announcement, a new approach to “‘new collar’ cyber security workforce strategy.” One in five employees hired by IBM since 2015 were part of this wave of “new collar” employees.

With studies showing a global shortage of up to 1.8 million information and network security looming, many organizations both private and public are struggling to prepare for this crunch in the supply of workers.

IBM announced that it would be collaborating with Hacker Highschool, an open-source training program that states its mission is to provide “Cyber Security Skills for the Real World.” Increased investment in Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) was also announced, along with funding for other training programs at alternative education institutions.

According to General Manager of IBM Security Marc van Zadelhoff, the cyber crime landscape is evolving rapidly, but many companies are approaching the issue in ways that haven’t really changed in the past two decades. He emphasized that the skills needed today are oftentimes not dependent on four years of traditional academic training and that innovative educational models needed to be emphasized.

It was also noted that only 11 percent of the cyber security workforce is made up of women. Clearly, an emphasis on recruiting and training young women is a priority in dealing with the ongoing shortage of workers in the field. Developing new hiring models and recruiting at a wider range of educational institutions were also goals that needed to be pursued, according to the IBM announcement.

Hacker Highschool will receive skilled guidance and access to IBM security tools as part of their skills lessons targeted at entry-level security operations center (SOC) analysts. The announcement emphasized that this position is in particularly high demand. Access to IBM Security QRadar software will be part of providing students with direct experience using a deep security analytics tool.