(ISC)² looks to address security expertise gap with 2013 scholarships

Often it’s simply difficult to find the right skill set in employees. That’s something the (ISC)² Foundation is looking to address with new grant opportunities for women, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students and faculty worldwide.

According to the group’s Global Information Security Workforce Study, conducted by industry analysts Frost and Sullivan, the demand for information security professionals will double by 2015. Further, (ISC)² career research conducted earlier this year shows employers currently struggle to find the people they need, with nearly half (48%) taking three to six months or more to fill positions, and only 7.4% filling their positions in less than a month.

One of the issues with pursuing the appropriate certifications and degrees for upper-level security jobs is simply the expense of the undertaking, which is where the scholarships come in. To address the “brain drain,” the  (ISC)² will evaluate applicants based on academic excellence, passion for the industry and financial need. The application period will run from Jan. 1, 2013, to the end of March.

“In order to pay for my university course fees and living expenses, I’m currently working as a part-time junior IT support technician,” said Patrick Katamba, 2012 recipient of the (ISC)² Foundation undergraduate scholarship and a student at the London Metropolitan University. He is one of two recent recipients studying in the UK. “Though the experience is invaluable, the finances obtained can only go so far to cover my study expenses. This scholarship will greatly help me in dealing with all the financial constraints I will encounter in achieving my goal of becoming a certified information security professional.”

The grants are wide-ranging. For one, to inspire women to join the ever-growing field, each year, the (ISC)² Foundation grants up to two scholarships totaling up to $40,000. Aspiring security professionals can meanwhile ease some of their educational financial burden with the  (ISC)² Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship, offering undergraduate students studying information security grants of up to $5,000 per recipient. Not to be left out, graduate students often need funding to conduct special research projects. Seed funding of up to eight grants will be given for up to $3,000 per recipient.

And finally, the Harold F. Tipton Memorial Scholarship was established to provide “passionate, aspiring young information security professionals the means to follow the pathway to industry excellence,” with the grant varying according to applicant.

The scholarships will allow recipients to focus in on areas of the most interest to them as well. “Information security is my profession of choice,” added Katamba. “I’ve consciously focused myself in this area to gain expertise and knowledge simultaneously in this field. Ethical hacking and network security are of special interest to me.”

To encourage more academic participation in the profession and the certification process, (ISC)² will provide vouchers valid for one CISSP or CSSLP exam and, upon certification, the first year of membership dues.

“These scholarships demonstrate our investment and commitment to filling the pipeline of qualified information security professionals,” said Julie Peeler, director of the (ISC)² Foundation. “As cyber threats continue to evolve with broader implications worldwide, it is critical that we cultivate a workforce capable of mitigating these risks for the long term. These scholarships are aimed at encouraging not only entry into the workforce but more academic participation within this industry to help fulfill this growing need.”

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