Students the future of Australia’s cyber security front line

Catheriene McAuley Catholic College Westmead

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) students have been identified as future cyber security leaders after being invited to take part in the launch of the unique Cyber Academy, a joint initiative between industry, education providers and the NSW Government designed to boost Australia’s cyber security workforce.

Cyber security is vital to Australia’s future, helping protect individuals, organisations and all sections of society from theft and damage relating to data and technology.

As part of the launch, students from Catherine McAuley Westmead, St Andrews College Marayong, Cerdon College Merrylands, Parramatta Marist Westmead and St John Paul II Catholic College Schofields and Nirimba took part in a special Hackazon to showcase the technology skills they’ve already been developing at school.

“Everyone here has been so impressed by the skills and knowledge our students already possess,” said Maura Manning, CEDP Director Learning. “It’s wonderful to have our students involved because it helps open their eyes to different pathways and highlights what is a high-demand area at the moment and for the future.”

Catherine McAuley Catholic College Westmead

Partnering with the University of Wollongong (UOW), TAFE NSW and Swinburne University of Technology, Deloitte’s Cyber Academy offers students an earn-as-you-learn diploma and degree course.

“The Academy is a great opportunity for students who are not only interested in a career in STEM, more specifically cyber security, but it's also a great alternative pathway for students who aren't sure if they want to go straight to university after high school,” said Catherine McAuley student Arwen-Cady Firmeza.

With only 200 places on offer, students accepted into the program will be taught the technology skills needed for a career in cyber security as well as many other valuable skills such as leadership, communication skills, organisation and teamwork.

“The day allowed us to explore and expand our theoretical and practical skills in relation to cyber security and programming,” said Ashyra Chand, Catherine McAuley Westmead Year 11 student. “I am planning on a career in STEM which does incorporate areas and skills connected with cyber security and programming.”

Cerdon Catholic College Merrylands

It’s estimated that more than 17,000 cybersecurity professionals will be required by 2026. This Academy will fast track 1200 over the next three years.

“You're getting real world experience but also really high level technical and theoretical training,” said The Hon. Alister Henskens, NSW Minister for Skills and Training.

“This program is really important in how we build those skills and capabilities,” said Steve Jansz, Deloitte Australia Risk Advisory. “Through diverse backgrounds, students, people from all walks of life.”

“Being able to apply that to our daily lives and being able to save and support so many different people and businesses is so critical and fundamental to our society,” said Ashyra.

The launch saw 30 secondary school students from various schools come together to participate in a special Hackazon gamified cyber learning experience.

“I enjoyed the problem solving aspect of each challenge,” said Catherine McAuley Westmead student Nikita Bellett. “You had to think outside the box to be able to solve them and it was great to be able to challenge our brains to think in different ways.”

Cerdon Catholic College Merrylands

“I would like to encourage more girls to work towards a career in STEM,” added Arwen. “Fortunately, at the event there were many girls and we happened to work along well with those from Cerdon College.”

Expressions of interest are currently open and the first cohort of students will begin their training next year.

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