Microsoft and AustCyber have partnered up to launch a credible alternative pathway program for Australians looking to enter the cyber security industry.

Titled the ‘Cyber Security Microsoft Traineeship Program (Cyber Security MTP)’, the initiative aims to create opportunities for "aspiring cyber security professionals", regardless of their age, background or experience.

The program has been developed in further partnership with TAFE NSFW and the Canberra Institute of Technology, and will support approximately 200 participants over the next two years.

Students who participate in the program will spend one day a week undertaking a Certificate IV in Cyber Security through either of the participating educational institutions, and will commit a further portion of their study towards gaining relevant Microsoft credentials.

The remaining four days of their week will be dedicated to paid work experience in the industry, complete with ongoing supervision and formal training.

Global push for new workers

The Cyber Security MTP is funded by the Australian Government's Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund, a grant initiative worth up to $3 million dollars in funding to eligible projects.

The fund was launched with the intention to foster innovative projects that help to "quickly improve the quality or availability of cyber security professionals in Australia" and falls in line with recent federal government initiatives to bolster our domestic cyber security industry.

In order to effectively combat cyber criminal threats, AustCyber estimates around 7,000 more Australian cyber security professionals are needed by 2024.

Australia currently faces a chronic cyber security skills gap compared to other countries, with a recorded 134,690 workers employed as of 2021.

While this was a significant 23 per cent increase in employment compared to the previous year, countries such as Germany, Singapore and the United States all made considerably larger increases in employment.

AustCyber has acknowledged this "severe shortage" of job-ready cyber security workers, and the Cyber Security MTP is but one of many measures taken to help close the gap.

Microsoft has also been busy improving cyber security job opportunities.

In a blog post from earlier this year, Microsoft acknowledged the cyber security skills shortage as a "global problem", and identified Australia as one of 23 countries with an "elevated cyberthreat risk".

In addition to launching targeted investments for new job opportunities in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Microsoft's campaign is also focused on tackling gaps in gender diversity among cyber security professions.

How to join

The Cyber Security MTP commenced in both Sydney and Canberra this week, with further plans to roll out the program nationally by 2023.

The two-year traineeship will reward participants with skills relevant to roles in software development, system engineering, cyber security and cybercrime.

Microsoft said that, after graduating, program participants will have the opportunity for permanent job placement with their host employer.

The Cyber Security MTP is seeking candidates who are either just starting out in cyber security, or who have already begun their career.

This applies to individuals such as young jobseekers and junior level IT workers, all the way through to those who are simply looking for a career change.

Women and those from a culturally diverse or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background are strongly encouraged to apply.