The 2019 CyberSmart Summit (May 29-30) will bring together global leaders from industry, academia, and government to advance national and international collaboration in cybersecurity skills and workforce development. This multi-day event, now in its third year, is designed to identify the actions required to move towards overcoming the workforce challenges we face.

Owen Pierce, Program Director – National Workforce Development for the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (AustCyber), is among this year’s repeat attendees. As part of ONB’s CyberSmart preview, we spoke to Owen for a few thoughts on what to expect.

ONB: First, can you give our audience an overview of AustCyber?

Owen Pierce - CybersSmart Summit 2019 New BrunswickPierce: AustCyber was established in 2017 as an independent, not-for-profit organization. Like CyberNB, AustCyber represents the economic opportunity side of cybersecurity. We are funded by federal government grants and form a part of two national programs:

  • The federal government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative established through the National Innovation and Science Agenda. AustCyber is one of six centres set up in sectors of competitive strength and strategic priority to boost innovation and science in Australia.
  • We are an important part of Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy as a key enabler for cybersecurity research and development, as well as innovation.

Our program of activities is underpinned by evidence gained through extensive research and consultation. Our flagship Sector Competitiveness Plan and Industry Roadmap outline the opportunity for Australia’s cybersecurity sector to support growth across the whole economy. We are guided by our Board of esteemed members who have significant industry experience. Our team comes from a variety of backgrounds including academia, government, and industry.

Last fall, CyberNB began its CI-SOC (Critical Infrastructure – Security Operations Centre) initiative. Can you give us a preview of the CI-SOC panel you’ll be a part of at CyberSmart and why it’s so important?

Like Canada’s employers, Australian companies are demanding practically skilled and job-ready graduates to employ in their cybersecurity teams. To meet expectations, training providers are developing state-of-the-art facilities like a CI-SOC to provide learners with a realistic environment in which to train and exercise. In Australia, this is a relatively new thing in the education and training space but it is evolving very fast and with extremely positive results for graduate job outcomes in cyber. I am looking forward to sharing our CI-SOC experience to date with CyberSmart attendees.

You’re also part of the International Collaboration in Cybersecurity Skills Standards panel. Tell us about that.

When I started at AustCyber in 2017 I was extremely frustrated by the lack of maturity in the collective policy discussion around what cybersecurity skills were and how they relate to technical and non-technical work roles. Some people in Australia were seriously advocating for creating brand new frameworks to address the problem.

It did not take me long to see what other countries were doing in this space and to advocate strongly for a collaborative approach to ensure that Australia was working with its international partners on this issue and not in isolation.

The issue of a cybersecurity ‘skills shortage’ is of course not one that Australia faces alone. I am passionate about international collaboration in cybersecurity skills standards and see this not only as a powerful tool for cyber workforce development but as an important contribution to building cybersecurity capacity and maturity globally.

The potential is enormous.

What are you hoping to take away from the Summit?

I hope to share the ways Australia is addressing certain cybersecurity education and workforce development problems and hope that these may prove useful case studies to pilot in other jurisdictions. I also hope to take away some examples of best practice from other organizations that could be applied in Australia’s ecosystem.

Join us on May 29-30 in Fredericton for CyberSmart 2019. Registration is still open, with early bird pricing available until April 30.