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To improve access to cybersecurity skills and careers for historically underrepresented groups, particularly young women, Microsoft is launching new partnerships in Asia under the Microsoft Ready4Cybersecurity program.
As part of its commitment to the program, Microsoft aims to skill and certify 100,000 young women and underrepresented youths in cybersecurity by 2025. It will create more job opportunities and address the talent shortage while promoting a more diverse cybersecurity workforce.
Microsoft’s Digital Defense Report reveals that the frequency of password attacks has surged to around 921 attacks per second in 2022, representing a 74% increase from the previous year. The consequences of cyberattacks can be severe, with the average cost of a cyber breach now at $4.35 million. These developments have heightened the need for cybersecurity professionals with advanced skills in the region.
Microsoft Ready4Cybersecurity program, part of the larger Cybersecurity Skilling Initiative, aims to narrow the gap in talent and skills by offering tailored pathways to underrepresented young people seeking entry into the cybersecurity industry.
The demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow significantly, with an estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs worldwide needing to be filled by 2025. Over eight years, the demand for cybersecurity skills will increase by 350%.
In particular, there is a significant opportunity to increase the number of women working in cybersecurity, as they currently only represent 25% of the workforce in this field. By forging partnerships between public and private sectors, Ready4Cybersecurity will provide access to certification and training in foundational and intermediate cybersecurity skills to traditionally excluded groups, enabling them to qualify for available roles. The program has set a goal for 75% of those trained to be women.
Manju Dhasmana, Regional Philanthropies Director – Asia, Microsoft, said: “There is a pressing need to address the gender gap in cybersecurity where women comprise only 25% of cybersecurity professionals globally. We must recognize that a diverse cybersecurity workforce is key in the fight to defend cyberspace and boost cyber resilience. Addressing diversity gaps in the industry requires intentionality in program design and execution. We are committed to working with local education, nonprofit, government, and business organizations through such programs as Ready4Cybersecurity, to develop partnerships and initiatives to improve access to cybersecurity skilling and to empower more women and underserved communities to pursue careers in this critical industry.”
Partnering with nonprofits: Microsoft has teamed up with nonprofit organizations that have direct access to underserved communities, empowering them to provide cybersecurity training to specific population segments, with a particular emphasis on young women and girls.
Equipping the education systems: To bridge the gap in cybersecurity talent, Microsoft is focusing on equipping educational institutions with the necessary resources to effectively teach cybersecurity skills to the next generation of professionals and inspire them to become defenders against cyber threats.
Scaling with governments: Microsoft recognizes that achieving digital peace requires a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders, such as governments, tech companies, NGOs, and international organizations, working towards a shared objective.
Leveraging Microsoft’s customer and partner ecosystem: In partnership with its network of customers and partners, Microsoft is exploring new hiring avenues and considering alternative pathways that prioritize a skills-based approach over traditional paper qualifications.
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