How cybersecurity skills are changing lives in South Africa

A branch of Barclay's South African subsidiary Absa bank in Cape Town is shown in this picture taken March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings - D1AESRWSQMAA

Absa Group’s vision is to produce 300 graduates a year. Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings - D1AESRWSQMAA

Victoria Masterson
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This article is part of: The Jobs Reset Summit

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  • Encryption and cybersecurity are among the key skills in demand as businesses speed up the adoption of new technologies.
  • But there was a global shortfall of more than four million cybersecurity workers in 2019.
  • Absa Group is trying address the skills shortage through academies in South Africa, which among to produce 300 graduates a year.
  • It's part of the World Economic Forum's Cybersecurity Learning Hub, which offers free online learning.

Training workers in data encryption and cybersecurity are priorities as businesses accelerate the adoption of new technologies, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020.

But there's a global shortage of around 4 million skilled workers to fill cybersecurity jobs, leading professional body (ISC)2 showed in 2019.

One solution to close the cybersecurity skills gap is emerging in South Africa, where marginalized youth are training at academies in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Companies around the world face a critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals.
Image: Source: (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, 2019

Absa Group, an African financial services provider, launched the Absa Cybersecurity Academy in Johannesburg in March 2019. The company has now launched the second branch of its Cybersecurity Academy in Cape Town, South Africa, and wants to establish Africa as the hub for global cybersecurity skills.

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Careers that change lives

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across Africa faced a range of threats, including alcoholism, drugs, abuse, physical danger and going to bed hungry, says Sandro Bucchianeri, chief security officer at Absa Group.

“Can you imagine – if we manage to train 10,000 people?” he says. “They’re making a difference for themselves and their families.”

Rapelang Kotsi, one of the students at the Absa Cybersecurity Academy, says: “With what I’m doing currently, I’ll be able to give my son a better future.”

The Academy is a collaboration with the Maharishi Institute, a non-profit private college and self-development organization in Johannesburg that helps young people access education.

It's also part of the World Economic Forum's Cybersecurity Learning Hub, a joint initiative to provide free cybersecurity learning to address the global deficit in cybersecurity workforce.

Absa says the key to the initiative’s success is developing the social and emotional skills needed to succeed in the world of work, as well as technical skills. Students receive accredited cybersecurity training alongside personal development to navigate the world of work.


How is the Forum tackling global cybersecurity challenges?

It hopes to graduate 300 people a year through the Academy.

Global jobs recovery

The future of work beyond the COVID-19 pandemic will be the focus of the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit on 1-2 June 2021.

The event will focus on mobilizing a global jobs recovery plan in the wake of the pandemic, which in 2020 created losses equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs and an estimated $3.7 trillion in wages.

“The choices made by policy-makers, business leaders, workers and learners today will shape societies for years to come,” the World Economic Forum explained in the run-up to the event.

Closing the cybersecurity skills gap could help create jobs and ensure businesses are safe.

Almost a third of companies surveyed see encryption and cybersecurity as a priority.
Image: World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs report, 2020.
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CybercrimeCybersecurityDavos Agenda
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