• 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.

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.

What is the World Economic Forum doing on cybersecurity

The World Economic Forum's Centre for Cybersecurity is leading the global response to address systemic cybersecurity challenges and improve digital trust. We are an independent and impartial global platform committed to fostering international dialogues and collaboration on cybersecurity in the public and private sectors. We bridge the gap between cybersecurity experts and decision makers at the highest levels to reinforce the importance of cybersecurity as a key strategic priority.

Our community has three key priorities:

Strengthening Global Cooperation - to increase global cooperation between public and private stakeholders to foster a collective response to cybercrime and address key security challenges posed by barriers to cooperation.

Understanding Future Networks and Technology - to identify cybersecurity challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies, and accelerate forward-looking solutions.

Building Cyber Resilience - to develop and amplify scalable solutions to accelerate the adoption of best practices and increase cyber resilience.

Initiatives include building a partnership to address the global cyber enforcement gap through improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public-private collaboration in cybercrime investigations; equipping business decision makers and cybersecurity leaders with the tools necessary to govern cyber risks, protect business assets and investments from the impact of cyber-attacks; and enhancing cyber resilience across key industry sectors such as electricity, aviation and oil & gas. We also promote mission aligned initiatives championed by our partner organizations.

The Forum is also a signatory of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace which aims to ensure digital peace and security which encourages signatories to protect individuals and infrastructure, to protect intellectual property, to cooperate in defense, and refrain from doing harm.

For more information, please contact us.

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.