Around the world, companies are unable to hire enough workers due to a cybersecurity skills shortage. Several of the industry’s largest cybersecurity vendors are working to change that.

Industry estimates suggest that there are tens of thousands of unfilled cybersecurity jobs today, with as many as 3.5 million open cybersecurity positions globally by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Such a huge gap between supply and demand in the workforce will mean companies will face increasing difficulty hiring the skilled, experience professionals needed to keep their assets, employees and customers secure.

While industry associations and universities have made efforts to promote the profession and develop future cybersecurity workers, unique efforts by cybersecurity vendors illustrate how the private sector is taking matters into its own hands.

Industry efforts to combat the cybersecurity skills shortage

Network security vendor Fortinet, for instance, has launched a programme called FortiVet, which aims to recruit military veterans into cybersecurity jobs, providing professional networking, training, and mentoring.

In the two years since the programme began, FortiVet has accepted approximately 150 applicants, facilitated nearly 70 hires, and is in the process of expanding the programme internationally.

Fortinet rival Palo Alto Networks has created what it calls its Cybersecurity Academy, which provides degree-granting, accredited academic institutions with no-cost courseware, certification, training labs, and faculty training.

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Cybersecurity students experience using the same Palo Alto Networks products that cybersecurity professionals use in their day-to-day jobs, and in turn learn the specific, practical skills needed to win and succeed in specific job roles. The programme is in place with more than 260 partner institutions in more than two dozen countries globally.

Palo Alto Networks has also committed to making programme resources available to veterans, pledging to train at least 400 veterans during the next five years, along with certification and guidance to help them successfully enter the workforce and help combat the cybersecurity skills shortage.

Trend Micro offers an initiative called the Certification Program in IT Security. The seven-week training programme, available in Egypt and Brazil, helps recent university graduates majoring in computer science and engineering to get hands-on experience working with Trend Micro equipment and tools to solve real-world security problems.

Each of the approximately two dozen students in each session graduates with Trend Micro product certifications, positioning them to be immediately hired by Trend Micro or its customers and partners.

The programme is especially valuable in geographies like Africa and South America, where qualified cybersecurity professionals are especially difficult to find. So far, Trend Micro has graduated nearly 100 students, and plans to expand the programme to other nations.

Bringing in diversity

Finally, Symantec offers its Cyber Career Connection (Symantec C3), which introduces veterans and underrepresented and under-resourced young adults to the cybersecurity field.

The initiative assists nonprofits and educators in raising awareness of the long-term career opportunities in cybersecurity, recruits and trains underserved populations including women and minorities, places students in internships and on-the-job training opportunities, and ultimately connects program graduates with cybersecurity career opportunities.

Symantec with partner Npower has said it will train 15,000 people into IT and security careers by 2022.

While there is no one solution to the dire cybersecurity skills shortage, these and other vendors should be lauded for not only investing time, effort and money in developing practical solutions to ease the shortage, but also using cybersecurity as an opportunity provide invaluable career opportunities and better lives for thousands of people around the world.