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KPMG Wants Cyber Security Apprentices to Groom into Experts

Anna Purchas
Anna Purchas

New ways are surfacing to fix the vast skills gap in cyber security, where the job openings are plentiful but a supply of qualified applicants to fill them not so much.

KPMG, a Top 100 MSSP for 2017, has extended an existing training ground with a new offering that fits neatly with the consultancy’s aim to deliver technology services to its enterprise customers: It's offering to groom apprentices to help them attain digital degrees in cyber security, forensic services and its own technology solutions.

Mentoring is also part of the deal - students will have opportunities to delve into cloud, data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies with the guidance of KPMG specialists. An added plus is it’s free -- KMPG is underwriting the cost of attending and also paying students a salary for the duration of their learning.

KPMG360° Digital: Four-Year College Degrees and More

In under-employed technologies such as cyber security, hands on apprenticeships can readily substitute for university degrees or trade schools, offering another avenue for people to learn the skills required to work in the field. This one, called KPMG360° Digital, is a four-year course of study combining on-the-job work experience with the opportunity to gain a Bachelor of of Science (BSc) degree from BPP University, a London-based private institution, in digital and technology solutions. Successful candidates will be considered for full-time employment at the company, KPMG said.

KPMG360° Digital is an add-on to the KPMG360° apprenticeship program first announced in 2015 that also lists KPMG360° Business Services and KPMG Discovery. The Digital program is based in London, Manchester and Leeds.

As the company tells it, during the first two years of study, apprentices will undertake an induction program and regular training sessions. They will also rotate between different areas of KPMG’s technologies while beginning the digital and technology solutions degree. In the third and four years, students will choose from a range of specialties, such as IT consultant, business analyst, network engineer, cyber security analyst, software engineer or data analyst.

“Technological change provides an opportunity to enhance the services we offer, but this cannot be done unless the skills of our workforce match the investment we are making in new technology,” said Anna Purchas, head of people for KPMG in the UK.

KPMG Talent Pipeline Grows

Last September, KPMG said it had boosted its apprenticeship hires by 40 percent from the prior year, propelled by a tailored recruitment drive. The firm hired 181 apprentices in 2017, up from 129 in 2016, bringing to 387 the total number of people taking part in the firm’s apprenticeship programs. This latest curricula may have gained some impetus from a study the firm conducted last summer in which 75 percent of 400 U.S. CEO’s said they expect to make significant investments in cyber security over the next few years. The obvious conclusion is their firms will need top security pros to support those initiatives, help that could come from KPMG’s trainees in the future.

Acquiring security talent appears to be top of mind for KPMG. The consultant opened the new year by acquiring Cyberinc's identity and access management business, a buyout it said will boost its digital consumer identity and privileged user management talent and resources.

In many corners, initiatives to fill cyber security jobs is more than just talk, drawing attention from a variety of companies and cities. Among them is New York City with its new $30 million training initiative, dubbed Cyber NYC, to build a skills pipeline, fund research and support cyber startups in the metropolitan area. And, in mid-2017, IBM began touting its alternative cybersecurity training program for millennials to help students prepare for next generation technology jobs such as cyber security.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.