WASHINGTON, USA – The Ministry of Sciences, Technology and Telecommunications of Costa Rica (MICITT), the Cybersecurity Program of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Technological Institute of the Americas (ITLA) and The Citi Foundation this week launched the Costa Rican chapter of the international program “Creating a Career Path in Digital Security, Pathways to Progress,” to train 40 students from Costa Rica.
The objective of the virtual program is to train students from vulnerable economic contexts to improve their long-term employability, through 40 hours of technical training in cybersecurity, including topics such as basic cybersecurity fundamentals, incident management, threat analysis and forensic analysis, as well as four hours on professional development. This year, the program will involve the participation of 40 students from four universities in Costa Rica: National University (UNA), University of Costa Rica (UCR), Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT) and National Technical University (UTN). Between 2018 and 2020, the program “Creating a Professional Career in Cybersecurity, Pathways to Progress” trained more than 120 students in Costa Rica.
According to the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC), there are currently more than three million unfilled cybersecurity job openings globally. In the Americas alone there is a shortage of more than 900,000 skilled cybersecurity workers. The “Creating a Professional Career in Cybersecurity” program is an example of an initiative that is working to close the technical skills gap in Latin America and the Caribbean by empowering young people from diverse economic backgrounds and fostering professional preparation in the region.
In addition to Costa Rica, the “Creating a Professional Career in Cybersecurity” program will carry out virtual training sessions in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Argentina, until reaching 200 students during 2021. The 50 most outstanding students of the program will have access to additional personal and professional training opportunities, including access to virtual digital entrepreneurship training and an annual license from Platzi, an online school for professional training in technology, among others.
The minister of science, technology and telecommunications of Costa Rica, Paola Vega Castillo, said that “we are pleased to have the support of such valuable strategic allies to promote cybersecurity from a young age as the focus of students’ careers, considering the great need for specialists in this area both nationally and globally. It is undoubtedly one of the key professions of the present, which will expand its demand rapidly in the future. Having people who specialize in cybersecurity is essential to our goal of achieving the digital transformation of Costa Rica.”
Edward Sánchez, general manager, Citi Costa Rica said “part of our commitment and with the invaluable support of the OAS, we have managed to provide young people with tools and opportunities that will allow them to improve their long-term employability. On this occasion, the program was focused on 40 young people, who received 40 hours of technical training in cybersecurity, closing the gap in technical skills in our country.”
For her part, the executive secretary of CICTE of the OAS, Alison August Treppel, pointed out that “through initiatives such as the ‘Creating a Professional Career in Cybersecurity’ program and ongoing collaboration with the Citi Foundation, the OAS continues to support qualified training in cybersecurity for young people in the region, exposing them to possible career options in the industry and awakening their interest in generating solutions adapted to the cybersecurity challenges of the moment.”
Melissa Pino, corporate citizenship head for Latin America at Citi Foundation, said “one of the lessons derived from the pandemic is that digitization is inevitable. As we continue to grow in the digital space we have to, in parallel, equip people with the necessary skills to protect ourselves from bad actors. By equipping young people with these skills we are preparing them for a sector that is in high demand. The OAS has done an incredible job to ensure that our current and future workforce receives the best training and has access to the networks that help them find employment.”
Since 2014, the Citi Foundation has invested approximately $200 million globally in Pathways to Progress initiatives. By 2023, the Citi Foundation hopes to cumulatively reach one million young people covered by these programs around the world, with a total investment of $300 million. In the United States, the program has served approximately 100,000 young people over the past three years, and the expansion of these efforts will be geared more intensively toward entrepreneurship and job skills training for communities of color.