Microsoft has announced that it is launching a national campaign to help fill 250,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. by 2025, by providing a free curriculum at every public community college.
The company’s chairman, Brad Smith, warned that the current workforce shortage is at crisis levels and threatens to undermine the country’s ability to protect against cyber attacks and ransomware attacks.
Cyberattacks by foreign government and non-state actors have disrupted federal agencies, supply chains, and individual businesses in 2021.
About 263,000 people have joined the U.S. cybersecurity workforce in 2020 and 2021 while the number of open cybersecurity jobs has still grown by 17,000, according to a report by the nonprofit cybersecurity organization (ISC)2.
However, 1/3 of all cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. have not been filled due to a workforce shortage, according to Microsoft. The gap is currently estimated at nearly 500,000 open jobs, which Microsoft believes it can halve over the next four years.
In addition to providing a free curriculum, with certificates available, to more than 1,000 community colleges, Microsoft will train faculty in 150 schools and provide scholarships to 25,000 students.
The company estimates that the 11.8 million Americans currently attending community colleges are the “biggest potential advantage” that the U.S. can leverage to resolve the shortage of skilled labor, while contributing to the diversification and inclusion of a technical workforce, which is predominantly dominated by white men.
The new initiative will build on this year’s commitment by Microsoft to invest 20 billion dollars in the project over the years in cybersecurity, including 150 million dollars to help strengthen the protection of the federal government.