As cyber risks continue to rise, so does the demand for skilled security professionals. Threat actors are finding unique ways to advance their operations, turning to Cybercrime-as-a-Service, generative AI, and other tools to enhance the volume and complexity of attacks. It’s no surprise, then, that according to Fortinet’s 2023 Global Cyber Skills Gap survey, more than 80% of organizations experienced one or more breaches in the past 12 months. And nearly 70% of business leaders say that unfilled IT and security positions present a significant risk to their operations.

A recent ISC2 report estimates that roughly 4 million cybersecurity professionals are needed worldwide to fill open roles across the industry. Diverse talent can help shrink this increasingly pronounced skills gap, but it can be challenging to find. Approximately 40% of business leaders indicate difficulty finding qualified candidates who are women, veterans, or from minority backgrounds.

Given the dire need for cybersecurity talent, Fortinet is committed to increasing access to cybersecurity training, certification programs, and employment opportunities. For the past three years, Fortinet has partnered with Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS), an organization dedicated to recruiting, retaining, and advancing women in cybersecurity to support those interested in pursuing a career in security by developing joint training and employment initiatives.

Joint Training and Employment Initiatives to Develop Cybersecurity Talent

Fortinet and WiCyS aim to make cybersecurity-related education, networking, and job opportunities more accessible to women worldwide.

Given these synergies, Fortinet joined WiCyS as a strategic partner in 2021, offering WiCyS members access to self-paced and hybrid training from the Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) Certification program. WiCyS learners interested in taking Fortinet certification exams after training can receive vouchers (valued at $400) at no cost. WiCyS is also a partner of the Fortinet Education Outreach program, an initiative designed to drive a skilled, inclusive, and diverse cybersecurity workforce.

Partnership in Action: The WiCyS-Fortinet Networking Fundamentals Boot Camp

One of the most prominent partnership efforts among the two organizations is the Networking Fundamentals Boot Camp, with the first cohort recently completing this training.

This training is designed as an entry point for those wanting to pursue a career in cybersecurity, as it provides learners with the foundation of essential networking concepts and terminology. Those selected to participate in the program can access 21 hours of training, including self-paced online modules and live, instructor-led webinars. The boot camp covers topics such as local area network key concepts, networking devices, internetworking fundamentals, virtualization, and cloud. After completing the networking fundamentals courses, candidates are better prepared to continue their cybersecurity education through initiatives like the Fortinet NSE Certification Program.

The second annual boot camp concluded in January 2024, garnering positive feedback from participants. “By holding industry certifications, I feel [I’ve] not only increased my cybersecurity skills and knowledge but also [gained greater recognition and validation among my peers],” one participant remarked.

Fortinet is providing five boot camp attendees with scholarships to attend the annual WiCyS conference this April, which will offer additional opportunities for professional development. Fortinet will be a VIP sponsor at this year’s WiCyS conference.

Ongoing Efforts to Shrink the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

To help address the ongoing cybersecurity skills gap, Fortinet has pledged to train 1 million individuals in security by 2026, and partnerships with organizations like WiCyS are vital to achieving this goal. This collaboration with WiCyS creates more opportunities for those from diverse backgrounds to obtain the skills needed to begin a career in security or grow in the profession.

By finding new, unique ways to increase access to cybersecurity training, certification programs, and employment opportunities, we can collectively upskill the next generation of cybersecurity professionals that the industry urgently needs. Partnerships will remain vital to shrinking the skills gap and can help organizations fill vacant roles, create more diverse teams, and protect their networks effectively.


Authored by Rob Rashotte

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