Microsoft aims to halve cybersecurity workforce shortage by 2025

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Microsoft President Brad Smith testifies at a House Judiciary Committee Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing titled “Reviving Competition, Part 2: Saving the Free and Diverse Press” on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, March 12, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

Microsoft will partner with community colleges across the United States and provide free resources to try to end a shortage of cybersecurity workers, the company said Thursday.

The company believes it can halve the country’s workforce shortage by 2025. It aims to help train and recruit 250,000 people into the cybersecurity workforce by then .

“We believe we can make a significant difference in solving half of the cybersecurity job shortage,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that “we should be optimistic as to the fact that in the next 12 to 24 months, we can start to make a real bump. “

The company said it will provide a free program to community colleges across the country, train faculty at 150 community colleges, and provide scholarships and resources to 25,000 students as part of the effort.

Smith said data compiled by Microsoft shows that there is one cybersecurity job open for about two that are filled in the United States.And of all available positions in the United States, more than one in 20 is a job. requiring cybersecurity skills. Microsoft said those jobs pay an average of $ 105,800 per year and can range from information security officer roles to those requiring a mix of IT and cybersecurity know-how.

In addition to addressing the labor shortage, Smith said the campaign will play an important role in diversifying the industry. Microsoft has found that men hold 82.4% of cybersecurity jobs in the United States, and 80% of those jobs are held by white people. According to data compiled by Microsoft, 57% of community college students in the United States are female, and 40% of students identify as black, African American, or Hispanic.

The announcement follows commitments Microsoft made after a White House cybersecurity summit in August with President Joe Biden and CEOs from several industries. Microsoft said at the time it would spend $ 20 billion over five years to provide more advanced security tools and invest $ 150 million to help government agencies update their security systems and expand partnerships. cybersecurity training.

Several high-profile cyber attacks have drawn public attention to the potential risks associated with cybercrime. An attack on government software provider SolarWinds, revealed last year, affected several federal agencies, for example, and a separate attack on Colonial Pipeline caused a severe gas shortage in the southeast.

Both the private sector and government officials have flagged the labor shortage as a persistent problem as they attempt to address such violations.

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