As part of its ongoing commitment to create a robust cybersecurity ecosystem in the country, Microsoft India today announced the launch of the CyberShikshaa for Educators initiative in collaboration with ICT Academy. In its first year, the program will skill faculty and higher education students from rural engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Assam, Uttarakhand, Delhi NCR and Rajasthan.
In its first leg, the program will empower 400 faculty members across 100 rural institutions in India with industry relevant skills in cybersecurity, equipping them with the tools to train students. Through the trained faculty and ICT facilitators, the initiative will further train 6000 students from rural engineering colleges to prepare them for a career in cybersecurity. In addition, Microsoft and ICT Academy will work with a strategic consortium of partners to facilitate job placement opportunities and internships for over 1500 students. The program has been designed to ensure higher participation of women educators and women graduating students from rural geographies, to create an equitable and diverse cybersecurity talent pool.
Commenting on the initiative, Kate Behncken, Vice President, and Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies Lead, said, “As the cybersecurity threat landscape becomes more complex, investing in cybersecurity skilling and preparing the next generation of security leaders has become more important than ever. India is estimated to have 1.5 million job vacancies in cybersecurity by 2025. The CyberShikshaa for Educators initiative is a significant step towards creating a vibrant and diverse cybersecurity talent pool in India. Our intent is to take cybersecurity skilling to the grassroots and empower both educators and students with the skills needed to thrive in a digital economy. “
Mr. Hari Balachandran, CEO, ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu, said, “With the growing demand for women cybersecurity professionals in India, closing the demand-supply gap is the need of the hour. ICT Academy is on a mission to prepare youth for the future of work and is glad to partner with Microsoft in empowering educators and women in the cybersecurity domain. Often, the lack of technical training or formal certifications is the barrier for any woman to begin a career in cybersecurity. Reaching out to rural students, creating awareness among women, and helping them learn and qualify at their convenience will create more aspirants and generate more women professionals in the field. Particularly, empowering educators will create a sustainable impact in developing skilled professionals.”
To address the gender divide and empower underserved women for a career in cybersecurity, Microsoft launched the country’s first cybersecurity skilling program, CyberShikshaa, in collaboration with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) in 2018. Continuing the path to democratize access to cyber security skilling for young women from semi-urban and rural geographies, Microsoft expanded CyberShikshaa to collaborate with TATA Strive in 2021. Through these partnerships, more than 1100 young women have been n enabled with hands-on experience and technical training in cybersecurity with mentorship from industry experts. Additionally, over 600 women have been supported for job placements with leading companies.