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Vodacom and Microsoft South Africa recently collaborated to train twenty interns on the importance of cybersecurity. Vodacom is keen to play an integral role in addressing cyber skills scarcity in South Africa, with cybersecurity a significant threat for governments, businesses and individuals around the world.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, training workers in cybersecurity must be a key priority as businesses accelerate the adoption of new technologies.

"There are 3.5 million unfilled cyber vacancies globally, which means that there simply aren’t enough people with the cybersecurity skills needed to fill open jobs,” explained Kerissa Varma, Managing Executive for Cybersecurity at Vodacom Group. “At Vodacom, we have chosen to look at this global shortage not as a challenge but as an opportunity. We want to increase the level of employment in our youth by improving understanding of cybersecurity as a career choice and providing opportunities for interns, graduates, and young talent that are targeting a career in cybersecurity.”

Both companies identified a need to collaborate on cybersecurity upskilling. Vodacom was already running an internship program, and cybersecurity was one of the areas it wanted to focus on, with 20 selected interns undergoing Cybersecurity 101 training.

“Joining the class, many of the students didn’t understand what cybersecurity was, some were weary that a cyber career would be too difficult for them. Post the training, several students reached out to find out more about our cyber graduate intake next year, inspired to work in a dynamic and challenging field where they would be continuously learning,” said Varma. “By making cybersecurity an accessible and feasible opportunity of employment for our youth we can unlock so much value for our economy and our business alike.”

Asif Valley, National Technology Officer at Microsoft South Africa, noted, “Investing in training lies at the heart of the ability to not only bridge the critical skills gap in South Africa and improve the employability opportunities of the country’s youth to drive broader economic growth, it also enables South African organizations to actively stem the rising tide of cyberattacks that are becoming more prevalent, sophisticated and devastating.” 

The long-term goal behind the collaboration is to train Vodacom resources to create a train-the-trainer capability and cybersecurity academy. “Cybersecurity is not a once-off training process, it is an ever-changing environment,” said Varma. “We want to continue building cybersecurity capabilities post the success of this initial initiative in South Africa, powered by a strong collaboration between Vodacom and Microsoft. We are already looking to scale this internship program across all our operating markets."

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