Charting New Education Pathways to Fill the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

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The 2020 Cybersecurity Workforce Study conducted by (ISC)2 found that the number of cybersecurity professionals required to close the cybersecurity skills gap has shrunk from 4.07 million to 3.12 million professionals.  Although this is a step forward, the gap remains significant. Data suggests that employment in the field now needs to grow by approximately 41% in the U.S. and 89% worldwide in order to fill the present talent gap.

One way organizations can close the skills gap is by empowering cybersecurity professionals to expand their skillsets and continue growing beyond their current roles. Organizations should also look to non-traditional candidates that can start a career in cybersecurity regardless of what their previous experience or background is. Both options require continuous learning and professional growth. To further facilitate the transition into a career in cybersecurity and close the skills gap, Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute has created education pathways, which allows individuals to navigate their educational journey from training to careers and helps organizations upskill employees to meet their changing needs. 

Mapping Out Career Pathways

Whether you are a recent graduate, in mid-career, or looking to move from another profession into IT or cybersecurity, Fortinet has developed tailored pathways that map common starting points and guides individuals toward their end-goal to various work roles in cybersecurity.  These guides are especially helpful for those looking for new concentrations in cybersecurity, such as moving from a focus on end point security to cloud security for example. Skills required for positions in that field are mapped out in the tailored-pathways. Additionally, organizations looking to fill certain positions or upskill their employees can utilize the roadmaps to determine what kind of training is required for this employee to advance in their careers.

The Education Pathways help to align Fortinet training and certifications with roles defined in the Cybersecurity Workforce Framework developed by National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Each pathway outlines how courses can increase experience and seniority in specific work role areas, plan for a career advancement or help make the transition into cybersecurity. Fortinet has defined four pathways for learners that are some of the most critical technology areas in the industry. Each pathway is organized to provide individuals with direction to learn the skills necessary for each area of interest, which include: 

Alignment to the NIST Framework

The global skills gap in cybersecurity is not only caused by the lack of skill, but also due to the lack of effective articulation of marketplace needs.  

The National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) publishes the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework. This Framework attempts to address the issue of articulation of security work by creating a common vernacular. The Framework is a nationally focused resource that establishes a taxonomy and common lexicon to describe cybersecurity work, and workers, regardless of where, or for whom, the work is performed. 

Work Roles act as the most detailed groupings of cybersecurity work comprised of specific knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required to perform tasks. Work Roles are not specific job titles. For example, a work role could be defined as Administration but titles of jobs in that role can be varied and diverse from Network Administrator, to Assistant Administrator, or Database Administrator or Chief Officer of Administration. Job titles change as career’s advance, but work roles are broader and tend to transition through careers.

Free Cybersecurity Training for All

Fortinet opened up all of its self-paced advanced security training courses for free in early 2020 and recently announced that the courses will remain free beyond 2021. Fortinet is committed to developing a diverse cybersecurity workforce by continuing to offer free security training for anyone around the world. Fortinet’s free training initiative provides learners with the following:

  • Access to more than 30 free security courses: These courses are on topics ranging from Secure SD-WAN to operational technology (OT) security to cloud security with more courses expected to be added throughout the year. Additionally, pre-recorded lab demos by cybersecurity experts are available for on-demand viewing. 
  • Preparation for NSE Certification exams: Most of the free courses are official curriculum for the Fortinet NSE Certification Program. Fortinet’s Certification Program is an eight-level program that has issued more than half a million certifications.
  • Continuing professional credits: Through a partnership with (ISC)2, individuals can use their free training completion – as well as any NSE training course – to gain Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits for CISSP and other (ISC)2 designations. Learners earn one credit for every hour of NSE Training Institute training they do with Fortinet.

The NSE Training Institute Tackles the Skills Gap

The NSE Training Institute addresses the industry’s skills gap by developing career pathways for security professionals, students, veterans and more through its Security Academy ProgramCertification Program and Veterans Program

The Security Academy Program supports more than 300 academic institutions in more than 80 different countries. Through this program, Fortinet gives participants access to Fortinet’s NSE training and Certification Program curriculum to prepare them for a career in cybersecurity. Fortinet’s Veterans Program helps veterans and military families develop skills, reskill, or upskill to enter a career in cybersecurity. With its eight levels of certification, the NSE Certification Program effectively bridges the cybersecurity skills gap, from cybersecurity fundamental education courses (NSE 1-3), technical product training (NSE 4-6), advanced solution-based training (NSE 7) and the cybersecurity expert recognition (NSE 8). 

By investing time to cultivate the talents in individuals looking to expand their skillsets and advance in their careers, organizations can help close the skills gap. Additionally, organizations must make clear and accessible paths to success for professional looking to jumpstart careers in cybersecurity, especially non-traditional prospects that are looking to switch careers.   

Find out more about Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute programs, including the Certification ProgramSecurity Academy Program and Veterans Program.


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