Industry, government, academics form group to help solve Canada’s cyber talent shortage

Another piece of the Information Technology Association of Canada’s strategy for increasing the number of cyber security professionals has fallen into place.

ITAC said Wednesday a group of industry, governments and academics have formed the Cybersecurity Talent Alliance to craft a plan for cyber security education and workforce development.

“The purpose is to energize and promote a collaborate network for cyber security education, training and workforce development by co-ordinating with governments, academia and industry partners to build on existing programs and facilitate change innovation,” Gina van Dalen, executive director of ITAC’s talent and business technical forum, said in an interview.

Many organizations work separately on cyber education solutions, she noted. ITAC believes putting together a wide range of groups — from the federal government’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security to Ryerson University’s Catalyst Centre for startups — will help.

“Canada’s need for qualified cyber security workers is growing exponentially, and our schools are struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving field,” ITAC CEO Angela Mondou said in a statement. “There’s stiff competition for talent, and businesses need to adapt and broaden their recruitment efforts. This Alliance will help to address both talent development and employer needs, establishing a Canadian talent pipeline that will help drive a successful economy.”

The benefit of youth digital literacy is the awakening of young talented Canadians to future career opportunities in cyber security, added Stephen Lund, CEO of CyberNB, a New Brunswick agency and an alliance member. “As the size of the digital economy grows and more devices become connected, the number of new positions to be created to support digital security increases as well.”

Creation of the alliance is part of ITAC’s plan, partly funded by a three-year $1.9 million federal grant that will look at the development of a skills framework for cybersecurity, as well as associated certification and program accreditation standards, and workforce development tools and outreach activities to assist both skilled tech-related professionals and employers.

However, according to Gina van Dalen, executive director of ITAC’s talent and business technical forum, the alliance won’t have its first formal meeting until late October when ITAC stages a workforce development conference.

ITAC, which represents the country’s major IT companies, announced in February a project to accelerate security learning, skills development and career development. That will include a framework based around the U.S. National Inititative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).

In addition to the federal cyber security centre, CyberNB and the Ryerson incubator, initial members of the alliance include

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories;

Cyber Quebec’s Cybersecurity Technology Transfer Center. CyberQuebec is a cyber security agency of colleges in the province;

—-the Smart Cybersecurity Network (SERENE-RISC), a cross-Canada network of cyber security researchers;

Digital Nova Scotia, an industry association for the province’s IT sector;

–the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing;

–Quantum-Safe Canada, which encourages the public and private sectors to prepare for quantum computers;

–Public Safety Canada and Economic and Social Development Canada.

–and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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