Canada’s First Cybersecurity Workforce Development Summit: A Student’s Perspective
As an ONB/CyberNB Co-op student, I had the opportunity to attend the first ever CyberSmart Summit in May. The summit brought together industry, government, and academia to initiate a workforce development strategy for the Canadian cybersecurity sector.
The event was a success, with over 300 attendees and two days of intriguing sessions and keynotes. I left the summit awash with new information and ideas. Simply listening to conversations had by professionals and experts was worth more than I could have imagined.
We have become increasingly hyper-connected, and digital technology has become a part of every aspect of our lives. We have not, however, kept up with the accompanying threats. CyberNB recognizes that gap and has created an innovative ecosystem of technology companies, academics, and government entities collaborating on a fix. I am excited to see New Brunswick positioned as the epicentre for Canadian cybersecurity leadership.
Tomorrow’s Cybersecurity Workforce
The hope of enhancing our education system to better align with cybersecurity’s workforce needs is no far off dream. Based on the CyberSmart experience I can say with confidence that our province has a real opportunity to position its youth for exciting roles in the IT and cybersecurity fields.
At the university level, significant developments are already happening in New Brunswick thanks to the work of CyberNB and Opportunities NB. The groundwork has been laid with new courses in cybersecurity being added to UNB curriculum and the launch of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity.
Many sessions enabled active audience participation like the panel on National Cybersecurity Skills Strategy. The significant takeaway was seeing high school and post-secondary students given an opportunity to pick the brains of leading industry experts.
Students were able to ask questions not often answered in school. Bulletproof’s Darryl Esau, the session moderator, did an amazing job keeping the conversation flowing while entertaining the audience with his humorous approach.
Benjamin Kelly, a teacher at Caledonia High School, is deeply committed to the CyberTitan Program. He spoke about his experience as team leader for his students during the competition. Benjamin is the kind of educator who doesn’t just teach the material; he takes the time to engage and connect with students in order to encourage continual learning. His team’s experience with CyberTitan was extremely positive.
The program was presented in a game-like fashion, with Super Mario Bros. sounds awarding successes, and buzzers announcing mistakes. Students acknowledged how gamification helped draw them in and keep them hooked.
I hope to see more teachers who aspire to connect with students the way Ben Kelly does. Cultivating more interest and creating more teams in the CyberTitan program is an incredible learning opportunity for Canadian youth. It gives them an enjoyable, competitive means to improve their cybersecurity knowledge.
I can say with certainty that I will be attending next year’s CyberSmart Summit, happening April 17 and 18, 2018.