The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is hunting for new recruits to bolster the country’s cyber workforce through its Cyber Gap Program.

Part of an $41 million initiative, the program aims to train an additional 800 cybersecurity experts over the coming three years by providing financial support, mentoring, and work experience for Australian citizens engaged in cyber-related study.

Australia has been recognised as a country with a high level of intent but low capability when it comes to activity in cyberspace.

This year has seen an increase in the number of cyber attacks worldwide along with a warning from the prime minister that the country was seeing more online aggression from a state-based actor.

The government has since said it would throw $135 million a year at cybersecurity to improve that capability at both a government and private level, including through the creation of 500 jobs.

Director of the ADF Cyber Gap Program, Wing Commander Paul Pettigrew, said Defence was offering unparalleled support for an additional 800 future cyber specialists.

“If you think of the strength of leadership that Defence can provide around this program and how we are genuinely facilitating and helping people get their cyber career going – whoever they choose to work for – it’s pretty unique,” he told Information Age.

“I’ve been in this industry for about 30-35 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

To apply for next year’s program, you must be studying – or are about to study – a relevant IT course in 2021 which includes TAFE certificates, graduate diplomas, and bachelor or masters degrees.

Defence will provide successful applicants with financial support for their study – including course fees and an academic allowance – along with first-hand experience at the country’s cyber-front lines, mentoring, and a certificate of reference to help launch them into the workforce.

Program participants will have to complete an online, self-paced course (roughly 40 hours) and attend a week of on-site work experience with Defence.

There is no obligation for people who complete the program to join Defence or the public service.

“We’re not just looking for school leavers or someone completing their bachelor’s degree,” Pettigrew said.

“We’re also looking for people who might cross-skill and change career path.

“We’re wanting people who might come from a legal background, or a general sciences background who might want to take on a graduate certificate, for example, and come out with real credentials, real experience, and real knowledge in this area.”

Participants in the ADF Cyber Program also get a membership to ACS.

Pettigrew said ACS’ certifications were an invaluable part of improving the country’s overall cybersecurity and digital technology workforce.

“The more we can get certifications happening across the national workforce – tens of thousands of people – that’s going to help guide and facilitate career pathways for people in and across different sectors as their careers progress,” he said.

Applications for the ADF Cyber Gap Program close 10 November 2020.