10 April 2023

New program seeks to create a more inclusive cyber workforce

| Andrew McLaughlin
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CYNAPSE launch

FifthDomain staff, CYNAPSE partners, and Chief Minister Andrew Barr at the launch. Photos: FifthDomain.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has launched a new initiative designed to open up careers in the cyber workforce to a more diverse candidate base.

The Cyber National Assessment Program for Skills and Employment (CYNAPSE) program is led by cyber security workforce management company FifthDomain and aims to standardise cyber skills assessments to create inclusive opportunities for a potential workforce to transition into cybersecurity careers.

READ ALSO New pilot program to help meet urgent demand for cyber security skills

It will also prepare candidates for working in security operations centres and provide employers and recruiters with insights to improve workforce participation.

The platform will remove barriers to entry by supplementing traditional recruitment techniques like interviews with objective, standardised skills assessments. For example, skills information can be provided without biographic data such as name, gender or location to remove unconscious bias.

“Cybersecurity is one of the ACT’s, and Australia’s, fastest growing sectors, and we know that ensuring it has the workforce it needs will be a key challenge in the years to come,” Minister Barr said at the launch event at the National Museum of Australia.

“It’s both encouraging, and no surprise, that innovative and inclusive solutions like CYNAPSE have been developed here in Canberra. Initiatives such as these will be essential to build the capable, skilled and diverse workforce the sector needs to continue its strong growth.”

Matt Wilcox and Andrew Barr

CEO and Founder of FifthDomain, Matt Wilcox (L) and Chief Minister Andrew Barr at the CYNAPSE launch.

Matt Wilcox, CEO and founder of FifthDomain, told the audience that he hoped the program would open doors in cyber, especially for women, neurodiverse individuals, First Nations Australians, transitioning veterans and people who live in remote areas.

“We want to help employers,” he said. “We’ve seen first-hand how hard it is to hire cyber staff. We also want to help students and those interested in a career in cyber understand what the job is really like by providing realistic scenarios.

“It’s universally known we need more people in cyber and the current pipeline of people coming through isn’t going to cut it. So we’re looking outside the box. We’re thinking about all the people with barriers to entry.

“For example, we have the statistics that say most people in cyber have a degree,” he added. “But do they really need one? I’m sure there are many people listening who are incredibly skilled in this industry who hold a degree and also many skilled people without a degree.

“There is a whole pool of people with untapped potential we could be hiring in cyber, and they currently experience barriers. For example, we know that some neurodiverse individuals have incredible abilities in this industry, but the thought of the interview process is daunting for them.”

READ ALSO Canberra Cyber Hub offers blitz of opportunities to tackle worrying capability shortage

CYNAPSE is designed to lessen that issue by providing the employer with their data sets of ability first.

“Unconscious bias is unfortunately a factor to consider in cyber,” Wilcox added. “Women only make up around 17% of the industry, and we want to dramatically increase that. We want to remove biased recruiting and provide faster and better placements while de-risking hires.”

The CYNAPSE program is backed by the Federal Government with a grant of $3 million as part of the Department of Industry and Science’s Round 2 of the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund.

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There is a typecast that serious techs are a male and a bit autistic. But this is only true in Anglo groups. Plenty of Asian females do IT. There is a cultural issue which is holding us back. from using 100% of the available talent. p.s old Anglo male speaking definitely not autistic, maybe

So no to the brilliant minds, yes to run-of-the-mill quotas

Did you fail to read the article? Or just fail to understand it?

The idea is to use objective skills assessments, rather than interviews. Name, gender and location will be left out to prevent barriers to selection through recruitment bias, so not selecting by quotas at all!

Objective assessments will find the brilliant minds, rather than shutting them out because of irrelevant factors like gender.

Recruit on suitability. If that means only 17% women then so be it. It’s probably a similar ratio of men to women in nursing or teaching, however, I don’t see campaigns to get more men into those professions.

You haven’t looked very hard then , they’re both crying out for them.

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