‘More cybersecurity talents are needed to bridge shortage’

Tolu Banji-Idowu, a cybersecurity engineer, speaks to BusinessDay’s Frank Eleanya about participating in Trend Micro’s Certification Program IT Security (CPITS) a free 10-week program focusing on the soft and hard skills required to succeed in the cybersecurity field. He also discusses the recent global shortage of cybersecurity talents and what can be done to bridge the gap.

What happens to the students that go through the CPITS training?

We reach out to partners – we have all over the globe. So we try to reach out to them to see if there’s availability to take on the trainees that we’re able to train during the program. Trade Micro also has a recruitment process where successful trainees get selected and work with the company full time.

Is the program nine weeks on campus or nine weeks virtual?

Our sets, we did in 2021, it was fully virtual. The next session is happening next year and it is going to be virtual, but the last week is going to be in our training facility. So they’re going to take those particular people that were selected for the program and train them in house.

What is your view of the mass migration of talents from Africa and what impact do you see this having in the near future?

Most people tend to look for opportunities in their country to see what the country offers. But you also see people who want to consider some companies on certain conditions, but they don’t meet the requirements or they don’t meet that standard in terms of opportunities or what they expect from those companies. So they get restless and leave. I do not blame the people.

They’re more attracted to applying for jobs remotely thanks to the Covid 19 which made that possible. When Covid-19 came, people were working remotely. Before then, it was not possible to get a remote position in Nigeria. But it has changed now.

It also pushed a lot of talents to migrate to other countries. Now there are companies that are offering relocation opportunities apart from the job opportunities. They will house them and take care of them until they’re stable on their feet. From the perspective of Nigeria, in the next couple of years, if we can’t find a solution to this, I would say that there’s a high chance that we would have many more people leaving. This would really increase the shortage of people or talent in our country especially for the tech industry.

Read also: Trend Micro tackles skills gap in cybersecurity with innovative training

It might even get to the point whereby we have people or tech companies now trying to get people from overseas to provide support to them. I think this is where Trend Micro comes into play with the CPITS program. The CPITS program trains in-house people, people from the same country and things like that, and they also get the benefits of people that are working remotely. This creates an environment whereby you get to work in your country, but you also get to work for companies outside and enjoy both benefits. In essence, you can contribute to the ecosystem in Nigeria and the global ecosystem.

I’ve been in some of these situations whereby you get to contribute to people around you provide insights on how they can go through their day-to-day activities,

What is the ambition of Trend Micro in this market?

Trend Micro in terms of the Nigeria market space, we want to sell our solution and provide cyber security solutions to all levels of business, from SMEs to big enterprises. Trend Micro also seeks to empower our communities in terms of corporate social responsibility. So in other parts of the globe, we have assisted or partnered with NGOs in terms of making sure we give back to society. In Nigeria we carry out education in cybersecurity in communities.

After training, how do you onboard the talents?

We provide job opportunities for these individuals that we train. They go through some Trend Micro related exams. They’re trained on our solutions. Trend Micro in Nigeria market space is growing big really. Today most of our customers are banks and also public sector companies. So when companies see that you’re Trend Micro certified that gives you an edge to be able to manage the solutions.

It creates an environment whereby, they’re not only Trend Micro-trained experts, but they also have the fundamental skills for cybersecurity. So even if they choose to apply somewhere else they will excel.

Also, those who can add soft skills gets an opportunity to be able to ace any interview

Is Trend Micro looking at collaboration with universities to increase the pool of talents?

Our universities can actually play a bigger role in this. I think we have like two or three universities in Nigeria that actually offer cyber security as a course. I know a few people that have come out of these schools that are doing very well as cybersecurity professionals.

Just to name a few, Joshua Moses organiser of Hack the Box who has created a community of cybersecurity or people that are really driven in cybersecurity. On the platform people share job opportunities, share insights, share problems that they’re facing with cybersecurity and it’s been growing so far.

So in terms of how the university has aided or how they can play a bigger role in this, I would say those institutions that offer cybersecurity courses, they should do more practical and less theory. I think a good balance of both will be proper learning and also being able to collaborate with the private sector. Programs like CPITS can be held in some of these institutions.

So are you looking at collaboration with some of these universities?

I can’t speak for the organization as a whole, but we have collaborated with programmes like Diary of Hackers

So we collaborate with other organizations or communities that reach out to us and that are looking for certain things like that in terms of partnership.

What do you think specifically should be the role of government in increasing or bridging the gap, uh, in talent for cybersecurity?

I think the government should be more open to the idea of cybersecurity in terms of reducing costs of training.

The government can create an environment whereby there is an enablement program. They can have people that are interested in these things to see how they can benefit from it.

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