Microsoft aims to cut cybersecurity workforce shortage in half by 2025

Microsoft President Brad Smith testifies at the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law hearing “Reviving Competition, Part 2: Saving a Free and Diversified Press” on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, March 12, 2021.

Kevin Lemarck | Reuters

Microsoft announced Thursday that Microsoft will partner with community colleges across the United States and provide free resources in an effort to help end the shortage of cybersecurity workers.

The company believes it can reduce the country’s workforce shortage by half by 2025. It aims to help train and employ 250,000 people in the cybersecurity workforce by then.

“We believe we can make a meaningful difference in solving half of the cybersecurity job shortage,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a press conference Thursday, adding that “we should be optimistic that within 12-24 months we can start achieving a real dent.” “.

The company announced that it will provide a free curriculum to community colleges across the country, provide training to faculty at 150 community colleges, and provide scholarships and resources to 25,000 students as part of the effort.

Smith said data collected by Microsoft shows that there is nearly one open cybersecurity job for every two jobs filled in the US and of all jobs available in the US, more than one in 20 require cybersecurity skills. Microsoft said such jobs pay an average of $105,800 a year and can range from Chief Information Security Officer roles to those that require a mix of IT and cybersecurity experience.

In addition to addressing the workforce shortage, Smith said the campaign will play an important role in diversifying the industry. Microsoft found that 82.4% of cybersecurity jobs in the United States are held by men and 80% of these jobs are held by white people. According to data collected by Microsoft, 57% of community college students in the United States are women and 40% of students identify as black, African American, or Hispanic.

The announcement follows commitments Microsoft made after the White House cybersecurity summit in August with President Joe Biden and CEOs in several industries. Microsoft said at the time that it would spend $20 billion over five years to provide more advanced security tools and invest $150 million to help government agencies modernize their security systems and expand cybersecurity training partnerships.

Several high-profile cyber attacks have drawn the public’s attention to the potential risks associated with cybercrime. An attack on government software contractor SolarWinds last year took its toll on several federal agencies, for example, and a separate attack on the Colonial pipeline caused major gas shortages in the Southeast.

Both private sector and government officials have cited manpower shortages as an ongoing problem as they try to counter such abuses.

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