Industry regulator Communications Authority (CA) and leading telecommunications firm Huawei have set their lenses on training boot camps as a complementary mode of ramping up the population of skilled cybersecurity professionals, for which Kenya is estimated to have a shortage of at least 100,000 professionals as of 2022.
Speaking when he presided over the presentation of awards to the 25 finalists of the Bootcamp during the National Cybersecurity Conference, CA Director General Ezra Chiloba said that this partnership approach to practical, hands-on engagement with the youth is in cognizance of the need to empower the future workforce with the right skill set to address the ever-evolving cybersecurity threat landscape. The students were drawn from different learning institutions including the University of Nairobi, Zetech University, Jomo Kenyatta University, and the Technical University of Kenya.
“We support the use of both sponsored and paid Bootcamps to train our young people so that they can obtain the technical skills that are in immediate demand and thus be job ready for the opportunities in the market,” said Chiloba. He added that the concept of Bootcamps is working for the information security industry as they are typically structured, rigorous, comprehensive, and concentrated programs designed to equip students with skills and prepare them for the rapidly changing cyber landscape.
The bootcamps are short, and activities and discussions are fast yet extreme, preparing them to successfully achieve the associated certifications, thus boosting their employability research by Forbes shows that less than 20 percent of college students got jobs immediately after graduating. The conference boot camp included a Huawei Certification e-learning course on cybersecurity, virtual lab exercises, and mentorship from experts within the field. The jointly structured sessions and courses were geared at preparing participants for a successful career in cybersecurity.
The 3-day conference which was the highlight of the October Cybersecurity Awareness Month was held by the Authority in partnership with Huawei and the Kenya Cybersecurity and Forensics Association (KCSFA) and included a hackathon and cyber Bootcamp that attracted 117 and 1,700 participants respectively from various learning institutions around the country.
In first place was the team of Agnes Kulei, Beatrice Ndanu Kiilu, and Caleb Gatimu Njeru. Second place was the team composed of Julius Kirimi, Seruno Pkiyach Denis, and Katiku Munyao. In third place was Lynette Jeruto Kisegei, Anthony Kiama, Biwott Shadrack Kibet, and Billy Samwel Onoka.
Steven Zhang, Deputy CEO for Public Affairs of Huawei Kenya added that cybersecurity bootcamps are different from traditional learning programs because they prioritize skills over theory. They typically don’t require repeat sessions as learners are more involved in hands-on activities that equip them with skills needed for their job. The bootcamps bring information security employees together for professional development, provide high-quality training and give students the best chance of passing their next-level certification test.
“There is tremendous demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals so you will have a bright future. We are delighted to help provide training and support for young Kenyans together with our partners, the CA, and we will continue to do our utmost to help build skills in this country as well as ensure secure networks,” he mentioned.
With information technology security skills in such high demand, cyber security is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation. Bootcamps are a growing segment within education centered around intensive, short-term training programs designed to provide the essential skills needed to obtain employment in a specific field.