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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.

Scouting for cyber

“We have lots of companies that come to speak to us in order to approach undergrads and say, ‘Look do you want to work for us after you have graduated?’” says Professor Ben Schreer, head of the university’s Department of Security Studies and Criminology. “It’s not automatic of course, but by and large you can really see that the good students, with a good education in that space, are attractive for a lot of companies. “

For undergraduates, the hub will offer two related degrees, including Bachelor of Information Technology majoring in Cyber Security. For postgraduates, there is the opportunity to specialise in Internetworking and Cyber Security among other related subjects. As well as the technical aspects, the courses also cover the commercial and societal implications of cyber attacks.

They are already proving very popular Schreer said, with “significant” levels of enrolment. Universities across Australia are “reacting to the demand of the market” while students are increasingly savvy to the employment opportunities in the sector.

“Unis are reacting to the demand, students are reacting to the demand,” Schreer explains, “partly because employability becomes ever more important to students. Cyber security is valuable for the job market and so students are drawn to it.”

“If you think about the numbers of the cyber enabled workforce that we need across this country – it’s massive,” he adds. “We’re talking about thousands and thousands of students…if you have students with expertise, and knowledge, and training, that of coursemakes them attractive.”

The Commonwealth Bank launched its own centre of expertise the University of New South Wales earlier this year. The $1.6 million, five-year partnership includes the development of an applied cyber security undergraduate curriculum which commenced online in March, the establishment of a security engineering lab, and support for PhD researchers.

It enables us to support innovation in Australia as well as aligning ourselves with innovation that we believe will materially benefit our customers and shareholders over the next decade,” said the bank’s CEO, Ian Narev.

National benefit

Although there is competitive advantage to be gained by those companies supporting education in cyber subjects, the outcome helps the nation too. Both Optus Business' and the Commonwealth Bank's hubs sponsor research and innovation in the area.

Speaking in his capacity as deputy chair of the Australian Information Industry Association, Paitaridis added: “We are very focused on ensuring as a country, as an economy, as an industry, that we are cyber ready. That we’re building out our capabilities, that we’re investing in our cyber defences at the enterprise level and the government level and also driving some competitive advantage in this space.


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