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Exclusive Networks and Ingram back cyber skills coalition

Distributors among those that have signed up to support efforts to arm more students with cyber security skills

The shortage in cyber security skills is a well-known concern for the channel as much as it is for its customers, but the industry is taking steps to remediate the situation.

Against the backdrop of this week’s RSA conference, the Coalition to Close the Cybersecurity Talent Gap has been launched with the aim of proactively trying to increase the number of skilled staff the industry can recruit and lean on.

NightDragon and Next Gen Cyber Talent, a non-profit education provider, are the two leading players behind the scheme, which is aiming to raise $1m to start skilling up some of the students in the US from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds.

One of those that has also signed up to back the efforts is Exclusive Networks, with the channel player offering its own expertise and experience in bringing onboard recruits and training them up.

The distributor recently formed a partnership with California Polytechnic State University, opening an office on-campus and sponsoring 12 students, a number of which are taking security certification training assignments, delivered by Exclusive and its partners.

Jesper Trolle, CEO of Exclusive Networks, said it wanted to be part of industry efforts that would address the cyber skills shortage.

“It aligns strongly with our efforts to develop the cyber defenders of tomorrow, equipped with the specialist skills, knowledge and expertise to combat the exponential growth in cyber threats,” he said.

International roll-out

Given its global outlook, Exclusive is keen to see the efforts in the US rolled out internationally so that other countries can take advantage of the scheme.

“We are actively involved in a number of like-minded initiatives internationally, and this is another great example of a programme that is taking direct action in solving the cyber skills problem,” said Trolle.

“It’s time for the industry to put its money where its mouth is if we want to plug the cyber skills gap any time soon,” he added. “We also need to look for answers beyond the traditional talent pool and attract more diverse, underserved and underrepresented candidates, and I applaud this initiative for taking this approach.”

Those sentiments were echoed by other members of the coalition, with many talking of the challenge filling the estimated 2.7m unfilled cyber security positions.

“The cyber security talent shortage is an issue that impacts all of us, and is one of the biggest challenges facing our industry and national security,” said Dave DeWalt, founder and managing director of NightDragon and board member of NextGen Cyber Talent.

“Let’s demonstrate that as an industry we can come together to help solve the talent shortage, and foster the next generation in cyber talent that will help us combat today’s threats.”

Other founding members of the coalition, which has started with 25 firms involved, include Ingram Micro, Deloitte and Optiv.

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