Microsoft Providing Scholarships to Help Close Cybersecurity Talent Gap

Microsoft wants to help close the cybersecurity talent gap by providing public community colleges with free learning materials, teacher training, scholarships, and more. 

Microsoft wants this national campaign to fill 250,000 cybersecurity jobs by 2025. Course materials will include “Microsoft Security, Compliance and Identity Fundamentals (SC-900) and Microsoft Azure Security Technologies (AZ-500) certification aligned course materials,” according to a corporate blog posting. The company will partner with the National Cybersecurity Training & Education Center (NCyTE) to provide professional development opportunities to faculty at 150 community colleges, in addition to other grants and technical assistance to 42 other colleges “that are accelerating their cybersecurity programs.”

On the student front, Microsoft plans on providing scholarships and “additional resources” to “at least 25,000 students” over the next four years. Those “additional resources” will include LinkedIn Premium accounts, GitHub student developer starter packs, and more.

“We also recognize the importance of reaching additional educational institutions as well,” the blog posting added. “We’re preparing already to support other institutions, including four-year colleges including the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Stay tuned as we take more steps in the months ahead.”

Microsoft isn’t the only tech giant pumping money into tech training. In August, for example, Google announced that it would deploy the resources necessary to train 100,000 people in IT support, data analytics, and other tech-related fields. IBM, Amazon, and other companies have announced similar initiatives around cybersecurity (IBM’s initiative to train 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills will include partnerships with 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish cybersecurity leadership centers).

Ransomware and high-profile cyberattacks “underscore the importance of public and private sector collaboration when it comes to fighting cybercrime and keeping the increasingly digital economy safe,” Kevin Dunne, president of security firm Pathlock, recently told Dice. “Countries and companies will need to put aside their competitive differences and work together to have a fighting chance in thwarting the ever-evolving attacks from these criminals.”

An estimate by Cyber Seek, a job-tracking database developed by the Department of Commerce and CompTIA, estimates there are 465,000 open cyber positions nationwide, including 36,000 across federal, state and local government agencies. Given the rising number of cyberattacks, any kind of training program that helps fill these open positions with qualified technologists is a good thing—but technologists should keep in mind that mastering cybersecurity involves more than learning just one company’s tools.