South Africa Offered Opportunity to Lead in 4IR

Cape Town — THE cybersecurity skills gap offers South Africa an opportunity to lead in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), a business executive said at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa.

The World Economic Forum is scheduled for Cape Town from September 4 to 6.

Sandro Bucchianeri, Chief Security Officer of Absa Group, said 4IR was an opportunity for public and private businesses as well as government to influence the development of a talent pipeline to address current and future needs.

"In seizing this opportunity, we have the chance to contribute to tackling the global cybersecurity skills shortage while addressing the unemployment of our youth and, in so doing, making an impact on people and the societies in which we live," Bucchianeri said.

He noted youth aged 15-24 are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market.

Statistics SA reported that the unemployment rate among this age group was 55 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

Cyber Ventures estimates that the global shortfall of cybersecurity jobs will rise to 3,5 million by 2021.

Bucchianeri said the estimated shortfall provided a startling statistic and a unique opportunity to make a difference.

This gap must, he said, be filled to support the projected growth of the world's cybersecurity sector over the next couple of years, but the talent pool is simply not keeping pace.

"In South Africa, the problem is compounded, as those who are trained in cybersecurity do not stay, as they are headhunted by global counterparts for premium packages."

To address its skills shortage, Absa has collaborated with the Maharishi Institute (MI) to set up the Absa Cybersecurity Academy.

The programme is an externally focused, corporate social responsibility initiative aimed at empowering marginalised South African youth.

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