CSIR turns cyber academy graduates into security analysts

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 17 Apr 2024
Graduates from the first cohort of the Cyber Excellence Academy, with Take Note IT Solutions CEO and founder Mamela Luthuli.
Graduates from the first cohort of the Cyber Excellence Academy, with Take Note IT Solutions CEO and founder Mamela Luthuli.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has taken in 10 interns this year, from last year’s cohort of 25 Cyber Excellence Academy students.

Established last year by IT security solutions provider Take Note IT Solutions, in collaboration with the CSIR, the academy seeks to empower young South Africans with advanced cyber security skills.

Through a comprehensive curriculum and hands-on training, the academy equips students from underprivileged backgrounds with industry-relevant knowledge, skills and expertise necessary to thrive in the rapidly-evolving field of cyber security.

The six-month programme was introduced with the support of the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) and the University of Venda.

The successful conclusion of the first programme culminated in a recent graduation ceremony, held at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. Ten outstanding graduates from the academy were selected to seamlessly transition into roles within the CSIR’s cyber security unit for the next year.

“By fostering a deep understanding of cyber security principles, strategies and best practices, the academy produced a new generation of highly-skilled cyber security employees who can proactively safeguard organisations against ever-evolving cyber threats,” notes Dr Jabu Mtsweni, head of the CSIR Information and Cyber Security Centre.

“Our newly-placed students will be assigned to roles primarily within the Information and Cyber Security Centre at the CSIR, predominantly serving as cyber security analysts. Each student will be placed in roles that correspond to their acquired expertise throughout the programme, while also aligning with the objectives of the CSIR.”

Take Note IT Solutions CEO and founder Mamela Luthuli tells ITWeb the collaboration between her cyber security firm, the CSIR, the University of Venda, and MICT SETA has been instrumental in driving the success of the Cyber Excellence Academy.

MICT SETA is a strategic partner that has provided crucial funding to support the academy's initiatives, she adds.

“Its support, both financially and operationally, has played a pivotal role in advancing the academy's initiatives, emphasising the importance of public-private partnerships in promoting youth empowerment and fostering economic growth.

“Furthermore, Take Note IT Solutions has played a vital role in contributing to the MICT SETA Cyber Analyst Occupational Qualification. Take Note was the first MICT SETA strategic partner to pilot the cyber analyst programme in SA, demonstrating its commitment to advancing cyber security education and training,” notes Luthuli.

Regarding the 2024 intake, MICT SETA has allocated 35 open positions for young individuals to undergo free cyber security training at the Cyber Excellence Academy.

“The programme remains steadfast in empowering participants, offering comprehensive training, mentorship and exposure to enhance their skills and future prospects,” comments Matome Madibana, CEO of MICT SETA.

“Participants will not only gain technical expertise but also develop soft skills, financial literacy and engage in activities promoting mental resilience.”

This year, the initiative looks to have a strong focus on taking in more female students, reflecting the academy and MICT SETA’s commitment to gender diversity and inclusivity in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“By empowering young women, we seek to challenge traditional norms and foster a more balanced representation within the cyber security industry. Our aim is to reshape prevailing narratives, dismantle barriers and cultivate an inclusive environment conducive to the success of all individuals,” notes Luthuli.

The Cyber Excellence Academy says it is assisting the other 15 graduates with placement opportunities within its partner ecosystem.

Youth who are interested in applying to become part of the 2024 cohort, can do so here.