Australians have a new pathway to enter the cybersecurity industry thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and AustCyber.

Microsoft announced on July 21 the creation of the Cyber Security Microsoft Traineeship Program. “Cyber Security MTP” is designed to help citizens build a rewarding cybersecurity career, “regardless of their age, background or experience,” Microsoft said. The program will support around 200 participants over the next two years.

The program is partly funded by the Australian government’s Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund, which aims to improve the quality and availability of cybersecurity professionals across the country, Microsoft said.

Additionally, combining formal training with paid, on-the-job experience, the two-year program will allow participants to earn while they learn, Microsoft said. Trainees will spend four days a week working in the industry for a member of Microsoft and AustCyber’s partner network.

Expanding Diversity in the Cybersecurity Workforce

AustCyber was established in 2017 as an independent, not-for-profit organization, according to its website. The organization is funded by Australian government via grants, which form a part of two national programs:

AustCyber CEO Michael Bromley described the momentum behind the partnership with Microsoft:

“In 2022, a diverse workplace doesn’t just make sense. It’s good business practice. Including women, Indigenous people, neurodivergent people, veterans and individuals from other minority groups builds a workforce with a range of different perspectives and ultimately leads to greater innovation, higher levels of engagement and better decision making. This program provides a new pathway to cybersecurity jobs and helps address Australia’s cyber skills shortfall.”

Strengthening the Cyber Talent Pipeline

Program participations will also spend one day a week studying for cybersecurity certification through either TAFE NSW or the Canberra Institute of Technology. There, they will gain relevant Microsoft micro-credentials via Prodigy Learning — helping fill an estimated need for 7,000 more cybersecurity professionals across all industries by 2024.

The Cyber Security MTP will equip graduates with the knowledge and practical skills they need to work in high-demand roles, such as cybersecurity analyst or engineer. Program participants will have the opportunity to gain a permanent job with their host employer after graduating, Microsoft said. Moreover, Cyber Security MTP is designed to increase the diversity and inclusivity of Australia’s cybersecurity workforce, as people of all genders, backgrounds and abilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Microsoft and AustCyber are also offering a free virtual bootcamp that gives participants an overview of the skills and tools needed to recognize and manage cyberthreats to infrastructure, networks and machines.

Tim Allen, Skills for Employability lead at Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, explains the incentive behind the educational partnership:

“This alternative pathway model has been tried and tested with great success. Microsoft’s foundation IT traineeship has produced more than 300 graduates since 2020 who have gone on to thrive in tech roles. Microsoft is committed to growing the size, quality and diversity of Australia’s IT and cybersecurity workforce. We look forward to welcoming the program’s first cohort of trainees later this year.”

The alliance also includes ParaFlare, Microsoft’s active cyber defense partner. ParaFlare CEO Adam McCarthy, added his perspective:

“As cyberthreats continue to increase, so does the demand on our cyber workforce. Cybersecurity professionals are on the frontline protecting businesses, governments and organizations from increasing threats. This commitment by Microsoft and AustCyber will help ParaFlare and the Microsoft Traineeship Program ecosystem build the cyber workforce Australia needs to protect our way of life.”

Cyber Security MTP will begin in Sydney and Canberra on August 28. Microsoft and AustCyber plan to roll out the program nationally by 2023.