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New BCIT program looks to help close cybersecurity skills gap

BCIT's Industrial Network Cybersecurity Lab is the first-of-its-kind facility in the country.

A new program in Burnaby is looking to address the demand global demand for cybersecurity talent. 

With the help of Cisco Canada, BCIT is set to be the home of an Industrial Network Cybersecurity (INC) Lab, which Cisco and the post-secondary school say is the first-of-its-kind facility in Canada. 

The lab provides students with interactive industrial cybersecurity training to defend industrial, manufacturing and critical infrastructure organizations against cyberthreats. 

The lab, provided by Cisco, technology helps students gain real-world experience while bridging the digital skills gap. 

"It's been an incredible experience for me to work with all of our industry partners and the people here at BCIT and the students and watch where they're going out of the program," Program Head Roger Gale said at a recognition event on Wednesday (Oct. 13). 

"I just feel so much gratitude to be involved in this." 

A Cisco and Angus Reid survey shows that over a third (36 per cent) of Canadian organizations lack the talent to properly invest in cybersecurity infrastructure. 

"The financial impact of cybercrime is set to cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025," Cisco Canada president Shannon Leininger said. 

"As more of our infrastructure is digitalized — utilities, petroleum, food supply systems and more — it is critical that we have the talent to protect our industrial networks from threats and attacks. 

"Cisco is investing its resources and expertise to help governments and the public sector fuel digital skills training and secure a pipeline of cybersecurity leaders. Canada relies heavily on these skilled professionals to keep our communities safe and productive, while building toward a more resilient future." 

Since the start of the program, two cohorts have graduated and 100 per cent of graduates to date have secured roles in relevant industries or are pursuing further education. 

BCIT says the overall student intake has doubled to 40 students from the initial cohort of 20. 

"The INC program is a direct response to the industry's growing need for cybersecurity skills to protect critical infrastructure and keep our communities running," BCIT Program Champion David Leversage added. 

"The INC Lab gives students an edge - they hone their skills using the same industrial controls and latest Cisco technology found in the real world. There is no other institution in North America that offers this type of immersive experience and our in-demand graduates can pursue high-paying jobs in one of the hottest job markets." 

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