Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it will expand its cybersecurity skilling initiative to 23 additional countries. The campaign, which began last year in the U.S., is part of the company’s push to help solve the cybersecurity industry’s growing talent problem, while also helping diversify the industry.
Like many industries within tech, cybersecurity is facing both a workforce shortage and a widening skills gap among workers. According to Kate Behncken, vice president and lead of Microsoft Philanthropies, citing research by Cybersecurity Ventures, by 2025 there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs open globally. Microsoft originally launched the skilling campaign in the U.S. last fall, partnering with 135 community colleges to skill and recruit workers into the cybersecurity industry.
By expanding skilling and training to 23 countries, Microsoft aims to get ahead of the demand. The countries, which include Australia, Brazil, Canada and India, were chosen due to their “elevated cyberthreat risk.”
The company plans to work with the countries’ local schools, nonprofits, governments and businesses to develop the skilling programs. The goal is to fit the unique needs of each market.
The almost two dozen countries were also identified as markets that have a significant gap in their cybersecurity workforces, unable to keep up with the demand and diversity in the field. “In the countries where we are expanding our campaign, on average, only 17% of the cybersecurity workforce are female,” Behncken wrote in her blog post announcing the news.
Update: This story was updated on Mar 25 to clarify the source of research in open cybersecurity jobs.