Initiative bridges cyber security skills gap for WCape youth

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 12 Feb 2024
Graduates of the MiDO Technologies cyber academy programme.
Graduates of the MiDO Technologies cyber academy programme.

The first cohort of the MiDO Technologies cyber security skills building programme have graduated, with two of the students successfully placed with Mobius Binary.

This is part of an intern readiness programme facilitated by the MiDO Cyber Security Academy, which was launched in 2023, in partnership with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), KnowBe4 Africa and MiDO Technologies.

It targets developing these skills in underserved communities within the Western Cape.

“The FCDO is striving to help solve the problem of cyber skills shortages on the continent through their Africa Cyber Programme (ACP), which aims to improve safe digital access, bring excluded populations into the digital economy, reduce poverty and stimulate inclusive economic growth in South Africa,” says Victoria White, first secretary, political (cyber) at the British High Commission in South Africa.

Other supporting organisations include Nclose, Infosec Advisory Group, Cybereason, Infosec Institute (Cengage), Stellenbosch University, Rain, The David Legacy, Orange Cyberdefense, Usiko Stellenbosch, as well as individual cyber security professionals. KPMG is the assigned project team for the ACP.

“With a focus on cyber security, critical thinking, soft skills, innovation, collaboration and personal resilience, we aim to bridge the digital and cyber skills divide that exists between job seekers and internships or junior positions available in the IT and cyber security market, thereby addressing both the high youth unemployment rate and the skills shortage in emerging technologies,” says Dale Simons, CEO of MiDO Technologies.

According to a statement, MiDO’s cyber academy offers a blended learning approach, combining e-learning with in-person facilitation, personal resilience training, life skills, industry exposure and mentorship.

The 10-month programme targets youths aged 18 to 24 and facilitates cohorts of up to 21 candidates, emphasising real-world projects, candidate placement and integration into the workforce.

Through industry involvement and support, such as master classes and hands-on project work, students are exposed to real-life challenges faced by security industry professionals, with the extra benefit of building a network of senior members in the community and potential future employers.

“The problem we are faced with is not a ‘talent shortage’ but an ‘experience shortage’ and we urge South African and international technology teams to consider ways to expose these graduates to real projects and challenges,” comments Anna Collard, SVP of content strategy and evangelist for KnowBe4 Africa.

“Cyber security is a career of lifelong learning and their [the graduates’] journey has only just started. It’s up to us to provide the opportunities via experiences.”

“I thought of myself as someone with no passion, going from job to job. Since enrolling into the academy, it has brought about growth and a sense of purpose and I’ve grown into a more confident person,” says MiDO graduate Thurston Goldstein.