ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has launched a new program, backed by the Federal Government, aimed at increasing the cyber workforce and its diversity by at least 100 people by 2024. The program named CYNAPSE (Cyber National Assessment Program for Skills and Employment) is led by FifthDomain, a sovereign tech company that provides a cyber workforce management platform, together with workforce insights.

The program will standardise cyber skills assessments to create inclusive opportunities for a  potential workforce to transition into cyber careers. It will also prepare candidates for working in a Security Operations Centres and provide employers and recruiters with insights to improve workforce participation.

The platform will remove barriers to entry by supplementing traditional recruitment techniques like interviews, with objective, standardised skills assessments. For example, skills information can be provided without biographic data such as name, gender or location to remove unconscious bias.

The ACT chief minister said he was proud yet another forward-thinking and inclusive initiative was born out of Australia’s cyber capital Canberra. “Cyber security is one of the ACT’s, and Australia’s, fastest growing sectors, and we know that ensuring it has the workforce it needs will be a key challenge in the years to come. It’s both encouraging, and no surprise, that innovative and inclusive solutions like CYNAPSE have been developed here in Canberra. Initiatives such as these will be essential to build the capable, skilled, and diverse workforce the sector needs to continue its strong growth,” Barr said.

Matt Wilcox, CEO and Founder of FifthDomain, said that he hoped the program would open doors in cyber, especially for women, neurodiverse individuals, First Nations Australians, transitioning veterans and people who live in remote areas. “We want to help employers. We’ve seen first-hand how hard it is to hire cyber staff. We also want to help students and those interested in a career in cyber understand what the job is really like by providing realistic scenarios. There is a whole pool of people with untapped potential we could be hiring in cyber, and they currently experience barriers. For example, we know that some neurodiverse individuals have incredible abilities in this industry, but the thought of the interview process is daunting for them. CYNAPSE lessens that issue, providing the employer with their data sets of ability first. Unconscious bias is unfortunately a factor to consider in cyber. Women only make up around 17% of the industry, and we want to dramatically increase that. We want to remove biased recruiting and provide faster and better placements while de-risking hires, said Wilcox.

FifthDomain was awarded a $3 million grant for this project as part of the Department of Industry and Science’s Round 2 of the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund. FifthDomain is looking for cyber industry professionals, recruiters, IT and cyber education providers, and minority advocacy groups to be a part of CYNAPSE. CYNAPSE partners will help influence product design and testing areas, to make the program reflective of industry and responsive to diverse workforce needs. Participants can complete surveys, take interviews and trial the product.


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