IBM has launched its latest cybersecurity training course for military veterans in the UK, in partnership with the not-for-profit Corsham Institute and SaluteMyJob, a veteran-focused consultancy service.
The trio claim that the graduates they produce are uniquely placed to help tackle the growing shortage in skilled cybersecurity professionals, estimated by Frost & Sullivan to hit 1.8 million in Europe by 2022.
Corsham Institute CEO Rachel Neaman said that businesses cannot afford to be complacent about the issue.
"Government recently announced that the UK will be 'the safest place to live and do business online' but to achieve this we need to go beyond the standard resource pools. We have a huge cyber-skills shortage and the reality is that the pipeline we have at the moment is not capable of filling that gap."
SaluteMyJob MD Brigadier (retired) Andrew Jackson highlighted current recruitment policies as being problematic, in not keeping pace with cybersecurity advancements
"Instead of just whinging about a shortage of people, we need companies to actually engage," he said.
"We need to break this model, where someone goes and does a degree course, or long periods of education, by which time the world of cybersecurity has moved on about three generations anyway. And so by the time they appear, employees might be justified in saying 'these people don't have the skills that we now need'.
"Around 16,000 men and women leave the armed forces each year. It frustrates me that companies have graduate programmes to ease students into corporate life, but don't have one for the military.
"So shorter, sharper emersions, and then the employer also investing in these people, is very much the model we're trying to develop here."
So far, 100 veterans have been certified in two IBM security products: i2 Analyst's Notebook, a platform used in the military as well as commercial space, to bring disparate data together and present it visually; and QRadar, a security analytics platform.
One graduate has recently been snapped up by IBM reseller partner and Bedfordshire-based cybersecurity specialist Satisnet.
VP of IBM Security in Europe Julian Meyrick is a former infantry platoon commander himself. He explained why he was delighted to see partners in the IBM network see the value of military service experience.
"Veterans bring a lot of the soft skills we need in the cyber domain. We need people who are able to deal with complex situations; are able to be calm when other people have their hair on fire and don't understand why their company has been hacked, or the IT isn't working; and people who are used to following structured processes but also have the confidence to use their initiative, because the reality is that however much you can plan for a cybersecurity incident, most of them never quite turn out the way you planned."
One such veteran, Private EJ Ocljighoro, is currently employed by global integrator Logicalis, after leaving the army in March 2017. He told CRN that his message to businesses is that they should consider him and other military service personnel as "a game changer" to the corporate world.
"The army drills a lot of personal habits that can be transformative to the private sector, from the discipline to the high ethical standards.
"I think security should be the number one priority of every business, and we are a great force to be reckoned with if given the opportunity to prove it."
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