Skills Gap and Diversity in Cyber Security


Purple Team Australia, a collaborative partnership of industry experts, academia, supported by Australian Government funding, is launching a national workforce development program. This program is focused on addressing the cybersecurity skills gap whilst increasing diversity within the sector.

Following a response of more than 230 applications, the successful students commence the five-month training and education program, supported by over 35 industry mentors. The program is designed to train and place 320 women and First Nations Australians within the industry through a ‘right skill, right person, right employer’ approach.

The official launch of Purple Team Australia will witness the gathering of the program’s delivery partners, program sponsors, mentors, and students, each of whom is instrumental to this pioneering initiative. This event underscores the program’s commitment to increasing diversity, with 98% women and 7% First Nations Australians encompassing the student cohort for 2023.

The design of the Purple Team Australia program goes beyond traditional education and recruitment strategies. Students receive micro-credentials in cyber security and, whilst undertaking the program, are provided with a wrap-around service that addresses the challenges faced by First Nations Australians and women. This includes a self-paced ‘study anywhere’ program with dedicated mentors from the industry, ‘Expert-in-Residence’ and ‘Employer-In-Residence’ sessions, specialised vendor training, and support from a dedicated Talent Manager to ensure job readiness for the employer they are matched with.

The program culminates in a National Capture the Flag Challenge and Graduation The ceremony, signifying a holistic and practical readiness to tackle real-world cyber security challenges.

The initiative changes the landscape for cyber security training and recruitment. Linda Cavanagh, Chief Operating Officer at Cybermerc, said, “Our program isn’t just another training program or a recruitment service. It’s a bespoke program designed specifically for women and First Nations Australians to enter the cyber security industry with contemporary tradecraft skills to match the current threat environment. We’re not just developing another talent pool. Instead, we’re constructing a future-proof cyber workforce.”

Matthew Nevin, Co-Founder and CEO of Cybermerc, highlighted the profound impact of diversity in cyber security, saying, “Our industry’s strength lies in embracing an array of perspectives. By fostering a broad-minded approach, we enhance our problem-solving capacity as we navigate the complexities of Australia’s current and forthcoming cyber security challenges.”

Linda concluded, “Purple Team Australia goes beyond merely imparting technical skills. We’re fostering a culture of inclusion in cyber security by providing opportunities to empower diverse talents to contribute meaningfully to our national digital security.”