The Federal Government’s most significant technology item in last night’s annual budget was its proposed injection of A$9.9 billion into Australia’s cybersecurity and intelligence capabilities. The main objective of this injection would be the creation of 1,900 jobs at the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) over the next decade.
While Australia’s tech industry has welcomed increased spending on cybersecurity, it’s unclear whether these jobs can be filled due to Australia’s digital skills shortage, cybersecurity professor Matt Warren told ZDNet. at RMIT University. Because the ASD is a government agency, only Australian citizens can be hired for these new jobs, meaning the federal government and Australian organizations must develop talent for sovereignty to fill these roles.
“A key issue is that only Australian citizens can work for the Commonwealth and with the current cybersecurity skills shortage it may be difficult to fill the 1,900 new security positions,” Warren explained.
“In terms of how the cyber industry works, they’re poaching each other – so the industry is poaching the government. So I think part of the discussion is about how to develop cybersecurity skills at the future from a perspective of sovereignty.”
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Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made similar remarks, warning organizations about the need to prioritize trust over cost and effectiveness when it comes to cybersecurity.
“We find that in the most terrible events, whether in Ukraine or in the pressures exerted on our own country here in the Indo-Pacific, when it comes to the security of your data, you have to deal to someone you trust and so words like sovereign really mean something,” Morrison said last Friday at the opening of Sydney-based Macquarie Telecom’s new data center.
According to recruitment firm Hays, the results of a survey last year of nearly 3,500 organizations indicated that 68% of the local tech industry suffers from a skills shortage. Hays’ findings regarding skills shortages in the tech sector mirror those found by Seek in 2020.
With skills shortages a key choke point to filling any large influx of cyber jobs, Warren said the federal government’s next steps must focus on establishing a coordinated national plan to ensure the Australia can develop its future cyber workforce.
‘What Australia needs isn’t just one or two initiatives,’ Prof RMIT said.
Cybersecurity software company BlackBerry said Australia’s private cybersecurity sector also has a role to play in tackling the skills shortage, explaining that the growing number of cyber threats cannot be mitigated by the government alone.
“As the scale of malicious cyber activity grows, the public and private sectors must work together to rapidly upskill the Australian and invest in complementary automation, including AI/ML-based security technologies to help security professionals protect government and other businesses,” said Graeme Pyper, director of BlackBerry APAC channels.
Depending on the outcome of the upcoming federal election, which is scheduled for May, the jobs announced last night may not materialize if the Coalition loses the federal election. Whatever the outcome, Warren said the coalition and Labor parties are committed to supporting increased cybersecurity spending due to the growing cyber threat landscape around the world.
“Whether there is a change of government, I do not see cybersecurity strategies changing in the future. Both parties are committed to protecting Australia from future security risks, whether physical, cyber or spatial,” Warren said. .