Microsoft will partner with community colleges across the U.S. and provide free resources in an attempt to help end a shortage of cybersecurity workers, the company announced Thursday.
The company believes it can reduce the country’s workforce shortage by half by 2025. It aims to help train and recruit 250,000 people into the cybersecurity workforce by then.
“We think we can make a meaningful difference in solving half of the cybersecurity jobs shortage,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a press conference Thursday, adding that “we should be optimistic that in the next 12-24 months we can start to make a real dent.”
The company announced it will provide a free curriculum to community colleges across the country, provide training for faculty at 150 community colleges and give scholarships and resources to 25,000 students as part of the effort.
Smith said data compiled by Microsoft shows that there is one open cybersecurity job for roughly every two that are filled in the U.S. And of all available positions in the U.S., more than one in 20 is a job requiring cybersecurity skills. Microsoft said such jobs pay an average of $105,800 per year and can range from chief information security officer roles to those requiring a mix of IT and cybersecurity know-how.
In addition to addressing the workforce shortage, Smith said the campaign will play an important role in diversifying the industry. Microsoft found that men hold 82.4% of cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. and 80% of those jobs are held by people who are white. According to data compiled by Microsoft, 57% of community college students in the U.S are women and 40% of students identify as Black, African American or Hispanic.