Craig Davies is the leader of AustCyber, a government agency charged with making Australia the leading centre for cybersecurity education and growing the Australian cyber industry. Davies' goal is not for Australia to be "a" leader - he want us to be "the" leader.
Davies says the skills needed for us to do this are out there but we're not finding them. At a recent cybersecurity challenge held by AustCyber, one of the awards given was for the leading woman. The winner, Tracey, won the award for cybersecurity while the cakes she made - Tracey is also a pastry cook - won first and second prizes at the Royal Melbourne Show for her cakes.
There are dozens of examples, said Davies, of people who excel at cyber, or have the potential to excel, but can't find entry points or opportunities to develop their skills. And, at the same time, there is a clear hunger for more skilled professionals with almost everyone accepting there is a substantial skills shortage.
One of the challenges, said Davies, is that companies often want qualified people with experience. But they can't get that experience without a job. However, there are educational institutions - Davies holds Melbourne's Box Hill TAFE as an example - have graduates that are skilled and ready, just begging for an opportunity. And, he adds that national standards for ensuring graduates coming from across the country hit the market with a consistent level or preparedness for industry.
"AustCyber has being working with the TAFE systems around the country to connect them. Canberra Institute of Technology and Box Hill are working closely together and there are negotiotiations in progress with others. There is genuine desire in the TAFE sector to work together and get productive faster. And then we can bring students onboard and get them ready for work faster".
"We need pathways for companies to bring on skills, knowing they may not keep them," said Davies.
The idea of apprenticeships and internships is also growing. Many companies are developing programs. For example, one of the big four banks has a partnership with Box Hill TAFE to bring students in and give them on-the-job experience that they can use to kickstart their ongoing careers.
Another opportunity lies in finding partners to help deliver on the level of cyber-skills, rather than building your own team. That means having a focus on cybersecurity leadership and strategy, and then taking a more flexible approach to sourcing the skills needed to deliver on that strategy.
Davies says the funding for AustCyber ends in 2020. The organisation started with 876 working days of funding, which started this January. With the clock ticking, AustCyber is focussing its efforts on ensuring they deliver an ongoing legacy.
"Our mission is really clear. We want to have a vibrant industry segment that creates opportunity its across the board. That means bringing Australian talent back onshore and keep growing the skills. People should go where the opportunities take them but wouldn't it be great if those opportunities were here".
Craig Davies spoke at the InnovationAus Cyber Security - The Leadership Imperative conference held in Melbourne.