Initiative Aims to Encourage Diverse Talent into Cyber

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A US cybersecurity non-profit has launched a new program designed to encourage more diverse candidates into the profession, while tackling persistent skills shortages.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) announced its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Career Program yesterday.

It has been launched in partnership with top HBCUs and cybersecurity vendors including Prairie View A&M, Southern University, St Philip’s College, Texas Southern University, Dell, Proofpoint, Quanta and Trellix.

Also backed by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the initiative is designed to help address a claimed shortfall of over 714,000 cybersecurity professionals in the US. The NCA also cited White House figures claiming just 9% of workers in the sector identify as black and only 4% as Hispanic.

“For the cybersecurity industry to ever reach its full potential, the industry needs to find ways of bringing diverse talent into its pipeline,” said Lisa Plaggemier, NCA executive director.

“This program will tackle this long-standing issue head on by building bridges between the industry and the untapped talent pools that exist at many HBCUs today.”

Participating HBCUs, sponsoring organizations and the NCA will collaborate on creating mentoring programs, including training for mentors and tools for enrolment, user profile matching, 1:1 session scheduling and more, the NCA said.

They will also conduct in-person events in the fall and spring semesters of HBCUs, featuring guest speakers and panel discussions with industry professionals and recruiters. Students attending these events will get a deep dive into the security, privacy and risk sector – helping them understand potential career paths, how to interview successfully and what to expect in their first roles.

“Building a more diverse cybersecurity workforce is key to bringing new, innovative thinking into the industry and ultimately defending against cyber-threats,” said Jason Rosselot, vice president of cybersecurity at Dell.

“With the launch of the HBCU Career Program, we’re taking a meaningful step toward developing the diverse workforce of tomorrow while driving more excitement about careers in cybersecurity.”

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