The Cyber School Initiative: Accessible Cybersecurity Training in a Digital Age

Alexis ALLEY

Escalating cyber threats and a glaring talent gap in the cybersecurity industry increases the demand for robust, accessible training. Recognizing this, Microsoft has teamed up with the CyberPeace Institute to launch the Cyber School—an 8-week, fully virtual course aimed at upskilling and reskilling individuals in the field of cybersecurity. This initiative reflects a strategic response to the increasing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals and aims to empower participants with the knowledge they need to enter and thrive in this dynamic field.

Why Cyber School?

The Cyber School was established in response to the urgent need created by the growing cybersecurity talent shortage. Unlike other programs that require knowledge on a standardized coding language or payment for certification, Cyber School provides comprehensive training accessible to all backgrounds. “Pricing is a major factor when looking for training or certifications to help you stand out in the job market” shares Sarah Bonnaz, a student from the 2024 cohort and one of 99 participants to earn their certification. “There are so many options out there, but most importantly, you do not need a university degree to get a job in IT.” 

Astrid Aupperle, Philanthropies Lead at Microsoft explains: “At Microsoft, we believe in empowering individuals through technology, and our collaboration with the CyberPeace Institute exemplifies this. The Cyber School’s success is an example of Digital Inclusion, paving the way for the Future of Work. By skilling participants in AI and cybersecurity, we’re not only shaping tech-savvy professionals but also contributing to a safer digital ecosystem for everyone.” 

This course aims to bridge the significant gap identified in industry reports between the demand for cybersecurity professionals and the available talent pool. It offers a steppingstone into the cybersecurity workforce for refugees, students, returning job seekers, or those simply interested in diversifying their professional skills—all for free.

What Does the Course Offer?

The Cyber School curriculum is structured into eight thematic modules, each focusing on a key area of cybersecurity. The first module, “Foundations,” introduces participants to the broader implications of cybersecurity on society and provides an overview of the current threat landscape. The following modules delve deeper into technical and strategic aspects of the field, including internet and ICT fundamentals, information security basics, governance, risk management, and the integration of AI with cybersecurity practices. The course also explores current trends and career opportunities in the industry, ensuring that participants not only learn about the technical side of cybersecurity but also understand the career pathways available to them. 

Curriculum Designed with Industry Needs in Mind

This carefully curated educational journey aligns with the most in-demand topics from recruiters in the cybersecurity sector. By focusing on both foundational knowledge and emerging trends such as AI’s role in cybersecurity, the Cyber School prepares students to meet the needs of today’s employers and to understand the intersection of their current skills with new opportunities in the field.

The impact of the Cyber School is not only illustrated by our high success rate with 95% of students passing the final exam or the diversity of attendees (152 women, 48 men) but the experiences of its participants. One student, a recent Governance graduate, Thabo Dube shared, “I find the Cyber School to be very enlightening, eye-opening. It brings awareness to how prevalent technical skills are in any organization. Considering the kind of nexus of IT, it was a peak moment for me that I had not paid attention to before.” 

Fellow student, Sandra Proske from With Secure, adds: “It’s hard to find the balance between family, job, the dog, and a healthy lifestyle. And let’s be honest it’s even harder to find time to learn new things, attend a course or go to training. I loved the sessions as they were informative and fun with some Kahoot quizzes to keep us students focused.” 

Information Systems Master’s student, Kaluwa Siwale sourced the program through her Women in Tech group to build on her technical skills, “I was looking for a more practical course, but I learned a lot about governance and a greater sense of direction towards a research analyst position.”  

Lead Trainer, Zarc Okere reflects on the cohort, “the learners, coming from diverse backgrounds, showed remarkable dedication and progress, proving that with the right resources and guidance, anyone can excel in this critical field.” These firsthand accounts underscore the practical benefits and enriching potential of the program.

A Step Towards Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap

The launch of the Cyber School as an educational initiative aims to support a strategic move towards strengthening the cybersecurity infrastructure by empowering a new generation of professionals. With each module designed to build upon the last, participants are not only learning—they are preparing to become the much-needed next wave of cybersecurity experts in an evolving field. Creating an inclusive and engaging learning environment helps to expand the diversity of skills and mindsets while broadening the avenues available for workforce development.

Reflecting on the success of their educational efforts, Stéphane Dugin, CEO of the CyberPeace Institute, remarked, “We are thrilled with the success of the Cyber School initiative, made possible through our partnership with Microsoft. This collaboration is about addressing the talent gap. It is about equipping a diverse new generation of professionals with essential skills. It is about creating vocation and talents working towards a safer and more inclusive digital future.”

Contact us for opportunities to deliver upskilling programs like this for a secure cyber landscape for all. 

© Copyright 2023: The concepts and information contained in this document are the property of the CyberPeace Institute, an independent non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva, unless indicated otherwise from time to time throughout the document. This document may be reproduced, in whole or in part, provided that the CyberPeace Institute is referenced as author and copyright holder.


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