TAFE NSW is helping to meet soaring demand by employers for cyber security professionals by training more women to work in the traditionally male-dominated field.
One third of the cohort in this year’s TAFE NSW Cyber Academy is female, helping to ease the gender imbalance and creating opportunities for more students to join the booming sector.
The business of fighting cyber-crime is growing as governments and corporations seek to boost staffing numbers, with a report by The Data Institute estimating Australia is short 2,300 workers in cyber security, with an expected demand of at least 17,600 additional professionals in the sector by 2026.
Training more women is as one way of growing TAFE NSW’s pipeline of skilled workers for the industry.
Among those women leading the way is TAFE NSW cyber security graduate Sonya Jorion.
After graduating as a mature-age student in Certificate IV in Cyber Security through TAFE Digital, she secured a senior role as an IT Security Advisor in the Risk and Compliance team with engineering, architecture, and environmental consulting company, GHD.
“I looked at the statistics and remember thinking that if I learned cybersecurity, I would always have an exciting future,” she said.
“TAFE changed my life for the better. The cybersecurity course set the sails for me to be able to steer my career in the direction I wanted – and others can do it too.
“There are many, well paid career paths in cybersecurity and a growing number of opportunities world-wide so I think it’s a very good area to pursue and more women in the sector would help to protect against cyber criminals and reduce that gender imbalance.”
The Cyber Academy is a collaboration between Deloitte, the University of Wollongong, and TAFE NSW, designed to address national skills shortages in cyber security through a collaborative approach between industry, and vocational and higher education.
Launched with seed funding from the NSW Government's Collaboration and Innovation Fund, and with ongoing funding for eligible applicants via the NSW Government Smart and Skilled program, Cyber Academy participants gain a nationally recognised Diploma and Degree over three years, while working in industry.
Team Leader with TAFE Digital, Jocelyn Sinha, said work was continuing to train students in cyber security across a range of platforms.
“Our Cyber Academy is only in its first year of operation so it’s very encouraging to have enrolled a relatively high number of women in a cohort of students training for in-demand careers,” she said.
“As part of this program we work closely with government, industry and other education providers to meet the skills demands in a sector that is very keen to employ our graduates.
“TAFE Digital offers terrific flexible learning options for students through the Cyber Academy but we also deliver a range of courses from Statements of Attainment through to a Bachelor of Information Technology – so we’re excited to be creating that pipeline of workers through platforms that suit our learners and industry.”
Ms Jorion urged anyone with an interest in the sector to gain qualifications that lead to great job outcomes and a safer community.
“Cyber criminals are very dangerous people so it’s very rewarding to be working in an industry that not only protects companies and governments, but help to keep people safe everywhere,” she said.
“I would thoroughly recommend it as a career.”