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Optus and CBA head back to college to solve the cybersecurity skills crisis

George Nott | Aug. 9, 2016
Australian businesses partner with universities to find workers.

The lack of cyber security professionals in Australia is fast becoming a national crisis. A survey released recently found that 88 percent of local businesses were struggling with their lack of skills.

The government described the “critical shortage” as a “major problem” in its national cyber security strategy. The situation, it said, was “urgent’”.

Australia’s biggest businesses are taking the matter into their own hands, collaborating with universities to attract more talent to the industry. As well as helping ease the shortage, they are also seeking competitive advantage by bolstering their own security capability and that of their customers.

One such partnership is the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub which launched this month, the result of a $10 million investment by Optus’ enterprise arm, Optus Business.

Win, win, win

For students, the hub will provide the education and qualifications that will make them among the most employable and best paid graduates in the country. For the university, it is an opportunity to undertake original research into cyber governance, security risks and international threats.

For the telco, it is part of what Optus Business managing director John Paitaridis called a “very important strategic initiative”. “[We’re] very focused on being a leading managed cyber security organisation in this country,” he said.

David Wilkinson, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor (corporate engagement and advancement) said cyber security had “become one of the defining issues of this decade”. Attacks against Australian businesses and government agencies are ever increasing in frequency and sophistication.

“We don’t believe that these organisations, in many cases, are equipped to deal with the challenges,” says Paitaridis. “They lack expertise, lack the budgets in some respects, and most importantly, they lack the skills.”

Cyber security is a growing part of the telco’s enterprise offering. Optus Business is “uniquely placed”, Paitaridis said, to offer its customers cyber security services and consultancy on top of its suite of enterprise communication solutions.

“Clearly now cyber security as an attribute needs to be a part of all these solutions, so customers see us as a very natural partner for enterprise cyber security services,” he said. “We're taking that to the next level in also equipping and training the workforces of our customer base as well, in supporting them with their cyber sec strategies.”

The hub, situated at Macquarie University’s North Ryde campus in Sydney, is a key part of that support, with short courses aimed at executives and professional courses on offer alongside the undergraduate degree programmes.

As well as the courses, Optus Business’ customers, and those organisations that take up hub membership, will be offered ‘opportunities for engagement with students and staff to recruit workplace-ready graduates’ – a commodity in high demand and short supply.


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