Developing the Cybersecurity Workforce of the Future

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The cybersecurity skills gap has posed a challenge to organizations everywhere. The threat landscape grows more sophisticated and digital attacks continue to expand at a rapid rate. Organizations are faced with many cybersecurity challenges without enough security professionals to address them. One answer to filling the skills gap is to tap and hire underrepresented candidates, however, providing them with the educational resources and skill-building opportunities is yet another challenge. Access to cybersecurity education is not always accessible to these groups, which typically leads them to pursue other career paths. Investing in the preparation of essential talent pools, such as students, is one key component to closing the cyber security skills gap.

As part of the Fortinet NSE Training Institute, the Security Academy Program collaborates with academic institutions and non-profit organization around the world to help learners become better prepared to be skilled security professionals and enter the workforce. The Security Academy Program supports more than 300 academic institutions in more than 80 different countries. Participants of the program have access to Fortinet’s NSE training and Certification Program curriculum to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity. Fortinet had a virtual conversation with Irfan Ghauri, professor at Usman Institute of Technology, one of our Authorized Security Academies, to discuss how the program is benefiting students in Pakistan.

Q&A with a Participant of the Security Academy Program

Q: Why did your institution join the Security Academy Program
Becoming part of the Security Academy Program has been highly beneficial for our undergraduate and graduate students. Currently there is a significant skills shortage in the cybersecurity market in Pakistan. We’ve been actively searching for solutions to this shortage and the Security Academy Program is the only program we’ve found that prepares students in learning and deploying practical cybersecurity in depth, while increasing their chances of getting a better job in cybersecurity.

Q: How long have you been an Authorized Academy leveraging Fortinet’s curriculum?

The Usman Institute of Technology (UIT) joined the Security Academy Program in June 2019.

Q: How have you used the Security Academy Program in your curriculum?

We’re incorporating parts of the NSE training curricula into our courses, which includes hands on experience of products for our students. For example, the FortiGate firewall labs have been integrated into the university's 7th semester information security courses for BS and BE students. Separately, the Fortinet NSE4 course is offered for all students who want more practical, hands-on experience on FortiGate Firewalls and want to learn FortiOS in-depth.

Q: How are your students benefiting from the NSE curriculum being part of your university classes?

As a result of incorporating Fortinet courses, students are able to access hands on labs on Fortinet firewall products and learn security technologies practically. This includes web filtering, content filtering, application inspection and VPN to give them more exposure about security threats and the security landscape. Many students are finding the course to be more through and enjoyable in terms of ease of learning and more relevant content for eventually entering a career in cyber.

Since Gartner, NSS labs and others, place the Fortinet name high on the list of top security vendors and Fortinet is the most deployed Firewall in Pakistan, many students had heard of Fortinet already. Getting hands on with Fortinet products increases their chances in getting jobs once they graduate and having more relevant skills to the role.

Q: How are employers benefiting from the Fortinet Security Academy Program in your region?

Hiring a Fortinet certified engineer gives companies confidence about the individual's skills and knowledge of hands-on cyber experience, as well as the ability to work with Fortinet products. While demand is high, there is shortage of security professionals who understand the current security challenges and issues and can save the corporate networks from the latest threats using technologies and tools from various security vendors.

Q: Can you talk about what differentiates Fortinet’s learning?

Working on Fortinet products with the latest FortiOS has helped students understand different security threats and how to mitigate them with different FortiOS security technologies. Fortinet's free training course videos aide in their learning and the NSE Certifications raise their moral to pursue a cybersecurity field as their career.

Q: What benefits do you see the Security Academy Program providing your students?
With the integration of FortiGate firewall into the university’s Information Security Course, students now understandcore security concepts like NGFW, Web Filtering, Content Filtering, AV, IPS, VPN and others, which are hard to grasp through theoretical knowledge in books. Additionally, students can become Fortinet Certified Security Engineers, giving them an understanding of the Fortinet Product portfolio and increasing their opportunities in the workforce.

Q: How is the program helping to address the cybersecurity skills gap?

With the rate in which the skills gap is growing, it is crucial to establish curriculums to prepare the incoming generation of workers for the needs of the cybersecurity field. The Fortinet training website is easily accessible, and provides resources for a range of skillsets and cybersecurity experiences. This is vital in building the cybersecurity skills from cyber awareness to advanced technical knowledge and for students to have the opportunity to polish their skills in handling Fortinet appliances practically. Since Fortinet has developed many products for specific security needs, students can learn these products by pursuing the Higher Fortinet Certification tracks.

Investing in the Workforce of Tomorrow

The Fortinet Security Academy Program works to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive cyber workforce, bridging the gap between learning and careers. In addition to the Security Academy, Fortinet’s NSE Training Instituteaddresses the industry’s skills gap by developing career pathways for security professionals, students, veterans and more through its Certification Program and Veterans Program.  

Find out more about Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute programs, including the Network Security Expert programNetwork Security Academy program and FortiVet program.


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