October is Cyber Security Awareness month (#CSAM2021) an internationally recognized campaign held each October to help the public learn more about the importance of cyber security and staying safe online. Our Workforce Skills and Development team at CyberNB understands the importance of fostering the development of cybersecurity skills starting at a young age.
CyberNB has been involved in the K-12 education space in New Brunswick since 2015. In this time, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of New Brunswick’s Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) department, CyberNB has seen rapid growth and implementation of many curricular and extra-curricular learning opportunities for students.
In this five-year span, the introduction of several curricular cybersecurity programs has been developed and rolled out. Starting with a complete student/teacher resource package for grades one to six, which includes everything needed to teach the basics of cybersecurity to Elementary and Middle School Technology Education (EMSTE) classes.
The need for this education has never been more at the fore front, as our lives are increasingly more and more online. For so long children are taught how to stay safe in the physical world i.e. how to cross the street, don’t accept things from strangers, etc. Now we live in two worlds with the second being digital, and children need to learn the basics of online safety beginning in the earliest grades.
Since CyberNB created its K-8 cyber education resources they have only been deployed in several of the Maritime Provinces, however, recently CyberNB has partnered with BlackBerry and Public Safety Canada to embark on an amazing project where all the educational resources will be transformed into a fully interactive website that students and teachers from across the country will be able to access at no cost.
For High School aged students, CyberNB has partnered with CISCO Canada and the Department of Education on a brand-new innovated project, that will provide all High schools (French and English), anywhere in Canada, free access to CISCO’s Network Academy. Complete access to all of CISCO’s grade 9-12 curriculum, will prepare students with the skill set for an advanced start towards their career in Cybersecurity.
Extra curricular activities are also very important in getting students interested in cybersecurity. Over the past number of years CyberTitan has been an excellent cross-Canada cybersecurity competition that has seen a steady increase in the number of teams participating over the years.
Recently CyberNB launched a new cyber competition called “CYWARIA League North.” This differs where grade 11 and 12 students from across the country will compete head-to-head in an Esports style competition. Throughout the challenges students will be immersed in real world cybersecurity scenarios and threats. The skills developed, when participating in the competitions, are industry relevant and provide the sharp acuity and knowledge needed to become a cybersecurity professional.
There has also been an emergence in the way that Cybersecurity employers think about their hiring and recruitment strategy. In the past, companies would request a laundry list of qualifications, certifications, and experience, focusing on an “on-paper” version of the ideal candidate. The standard of a Computer Science Degree +10 years experience is shifting, and employers are now more interested in how effectively you are able to perform the cybersecurity tasks right out of the gate.
To help fill the gap in the growing cybersecurity sector we partnered with Canadian tech education leader, Lighthouse Labs to create Cyber Bootcamp an intensive 12-week program that provides industry-aligned curriculum (NICE framework), mentorship, and a top-notch learning environment that focuses on practical, hands-on skills needed to launch a cybersecurity career. As advertised: “We are going teach you everything you need to know, but only what you need to know!”
The value and importance of cybersecurity education cannot be understated. Together with our partners we strive to build and deliver relevant programs and curriculum to students of all ages across the country.
Contributed By: Dillon Donahue | Director, Workforce & Skills