Swinburne’s new Cyber Academy offers a work-integrated path to a promising career in a rapidly growing field.
The facts around numbers of cyber security professionals – in engineering, infrastructure, and other sectors – reveal significant global career opportunities.
Since 2014, the number of open positions in the field has increased by 350 per cent, according to Professor Alex Stojcevski, Dean of the School of Science, Computing and Engineering Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology.
The total number of unfilled jobs in the global cyber security space sits at around 3.5 million.
In Australia, the numbers are less clear. However, discussions from around 18 months ago put the shortage of cyber security professionals in Australia at a deficit of 16,000 to 18,000 people, Stojcevski says.
Clearly, skills and qualifications in this field will offer enormous career opportunities for decades to come.
For the last 18 months, Stojcevski and his team at Swinburne, in collaboration with Deloitte, have been developing a unique program to offer Australians the opportunity to work in the field while also studying, ultimately fast-tracking their careers into the cyber security space.
Welcome to the Cyber Academy
First promoted in mid-2022 and developed in close consultation with industry, the Cyber Academy combines vocational education with higher education.
It brings together a Diploma in Information Technology, Advanced Networking and Cyber Security (year one), and a Bachelor of Cyber Security (years two and three).
Most innovative is the fact that the course has been designed to complement work in the sector. The program combines study with paid employment at Deloitte, at a government department, or with an industry partner.
“Typically, students will spend three days a week with the employer and two days a week studying,” Stojcevski says.
Students will begin their Victorian Cyber Academy journey with a six-week immersive experience during which they will learn the fundamentals of the cyber environment through the Cisco Certified Network Associate platform.
Why cyber security is important
Prior to 2020, many life functions, from shopping to banking to social interactions, were fast becoming more digital. The pandemic only accelerated this trend.
In the infrastructure and engineering space, operations that not so long ago were considered manual have now been automated, including those in major utilities such as water, gas and electricity.
This is a positive development for efficiency and performance, and for the machine learning and AI advances that enable constant improvement of services. But it also opens up all of these systems, and more, to attack and exploitation from those with malicious intent.
“There is demand in all types of organisations and across all engineering disciplines for cyber security professionals,” Stojcevski says. “Particularly in civil engineering and electrical engineering there is huge demand, and the truth is we don’t have enough students to satisfy that demand.”
How to launch your career into cyberspace
Applications for the first program which begins in January next year, have just opened.
Numbers will be limited, and due to the program being currently connected to national security, is open to Australian citizens and permanent residents only. But candidates are invited from year 12 graduates to mature age students working in a related field, or anybody looking for a career shift into a booming field.
It will only be open to domestic students – Australian citizens or permanent residents.
“It is really open to Australians who have an interest in cyber and who hope to help contribute to fulfilling Australia’s sovereign capability,” Stojcevski says.
“The program is suitable for those who have an interest in cyber and who hope to help contribute to fulfilling Australia’s sovereign capability,” Stojcevski says.
“Both engineering and cyber security demand their own rigorous education and training programs. But today, there is also a huge need for crossover between the two. Engineers need to understand threats and how to protect against them.”
After all, he says, engineers use software and hardware. “The cyber threat is not only through software. Most equipment is linked through the internet and through data processing. So, it’s very important that they understand how their equipment and data could be threatened, or could be a threat.”
Find out more about Swinburne University’s Cyber Academy.