June 06, 2019

Australia is well placed to deliver cyber solutions

I’ve just touched down in Canberra after attending the CyberSmart conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada on 29-30 May 2019. CyberSmart is Canada’s leading cyber workforce development conference attracting 40 speakers and 400 delegates from North America and around the world.

I was invited to speak at the conference as the lead of a project funded by AustCyber (the Australian Cyber Security Industry Growth Centre) to build a Training Security Operations Centre (TSOC). FifthDomain brought together project partners from different sectors—Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), the Australian National University (ANU) and Nova Systems—to collaborate to deliver new and innovative cyber security education technology and capability.

The Canberra Institute of Technology is the only TAFE in Australia with a completely online immersive cyber training environment, integrated with their corporate Learning Management System. The training environment hosts industry created content supporting the Certificate IV in Cyber Security, mapped to the NICE (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) Skills Framework.

Overwhelmingly the feedback from CyberSmart conference delegates confirmed this capability is world leading. As an Australian entrepreneur, innovator, and concerned cyber citizen, this make me proud. BUT, we are not home free.

Australia is currently ahead of Canada’s cyber workforce development in maturity because of our agility to scan overseas trends and adopt and integrate ideas from thought leaders into Australian projects. Canada is now taking the same approach but with greater financial investment in cyber workforce development. At this pace they will overtake Australia within 12-18 months.

The message is clear and needs to be heard by the Australian government, industry, educator sector—we need to double down on our success in this space and do it now. Australia is an education exporter and cyber is major growth sector. The opportunity to capitalise on our brief advantage in these industries is ours to lose.

It was a great conference and there was much to learn and hear. Some of the stand-out for me included:

  • Blended, interdisciplinary classroom learning, combined with industry mentorship and workplace internships is accepted as the best way to develop the hard technical and soft interpersonal skills required by the cyber workforce. This approach is being wholesale adopted by Canadian universities and colleges.
  • The NICE (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) Skills Framework produced by NIST has moved beyond the early adopter stage. It is a proven valuable tool for cyber workforce development and is being adopted by the education and industry sector masses.
  • “The student is the product, industry is the customer” was said by more than one education provider. Within the workforce development context, educators supply skilled labour to industry, and students study to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities required by industry. The spirit of collaboration was strong and FifthDomain is already talking with a Canadian educator and US bank to work together to extend this work. I thank and congratulate the CyberSmart conference team for bringing true thought leaders together to focus on a global social challenge.