The global job market for cybersecurity talent is expected to rise by about 1.5 million people by 2020.

With a talent gap for Canadian IT professionals in the cybersecurity industry and a growing market for cybersecurity startups, universities and colleges are now offering more niche programs in areas such as network security, data analytics, and software development, while also increasingly focusing on a multidisciplinary approach to cybersecurity.

New Brunswick is Canada’s cybersecurity hub

The Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick is one institution that has played a critical role in expanding cybersecurity innovation. Led by Dr. Ali Ghorbani, it is the first institution to bring together researchers from across the academic spectrum to share innovative ideas and carry out ground-breaking research into the most pressing cybersecurity challenges of our time. The institute focuses on comprehensive multidisciplinary training that draws on the expertise of researchers in science, business, computer science, engineering, law, and the social sciences.

“We view cybersecurity as a practical problem that requires practical solutions,” says Dr. Ghorbani, a veteran industry leader who has been pioneering research in cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick and launched the institute this year.

“We have been doing research and development in this area non-stop for the past 17 years,” says Dr. Ghorbani, who is also a Tier One Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity at the university. “Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT problem; it is a business problem. Therefore, it requires multidisciplinary solutions.”

With one of the strongest core computer science programs in Canada, the institute has the research and development capabilities to create and grow industry-disrupting innovations. It offers a variety of tech-inspired graduate programs that Dr. Ghorbani says are accessible to almost any student, as well as networking opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to create startups in New Brunswick.

“We are heavily focused on innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of New Brunswick and, as a result, we have spun off a number of companies,” says Dr. Ghorbani. “The biggest one is Q1Labs, which was acquired by IBM in 2012 and now is the main focus of the IBM security systems division.”

Developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals

Realizing the importance of developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, organizations such as the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) — a world leader in IT professionalism, ethics, and industry governance that works to safeguard Canadian public interest in matters of IT — are working hand-in-hand with institutions like the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity to keep young people engaged.

CIPS has recently created a youth board program to give millennials a voice in the industry, while also providing both current and former students the ability to work closely with their professors for networking opportunities. With a focus on continuing education, CIPS ensures students remain engaged after graduation and continue to update their knowledge throughout their career.

“The bad guys don’t sit still,” says Bashir Fancy, the Chairman and CEO of the Canadian Information Processing Society. “So we want to make sure, through ongoing education, that people keep their skills upgraded so they are constantly learning.”

Together organizations like CIPS and the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity are working tirelessly to make IT programs as attractive as possible to a wide range of potential students, while also raising awareness about the ongoing and increasing need for IT professionals to safeguard the Canadian internet infrastructure from cyber criminals.

“There are not many careers out there like IT,” says Fancy. “Not only can it give you the opportunity to work in any industry you want, not only can it change your financial situation by taking a career in IT, you have the potential to change the world.”