OAS, MinTIC of Colombia and Citi Foundation Train 52 students in cybersecurity

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WASHINGTON, USA – The Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications of Colombia (MinTIC), the Cybersecurity Program of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Citi Foundation this week began the Colombian chapter of the international program ‘Creating a Career Path in Cybersecurity, Pathways to Progress,’ to train 52 students from Colombia.

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 52 students from 30 universities in various cities and regions of the country. Between 2017 and 2020, the ‘Creating a Career Path in Cybersecurity, Pathways to Progress’ program has trained 140 students in Colombia and more than 600 throughout the region of the Americas.

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 Career Path in Cybersecurity´ program is 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 promoting professional preparation in the region.

In addition to Colombia, the program ‘Creating a Career Path in Cybersecurity´ will carry out virtual trainings in Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru and the Dominican Republic, 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.

Seeking greater coverage of the program and regional participation, this year the MinTIC of Colombia made a strategic alliance for the convening process with the Network of Systems Engineering and Related Programs (REDIS), which has more than 180 programs registered at the national level, which facilitated receipt of 100 applications from students interested in participating from remote municipalities. “Having the support of REDIS allowed us to include students from remote regions in Colombia, giving them the opportunity to acquire new knowledge that will allow them to improve their quality of life,” stressed Aura Cifuentes, director of Digital Government of the MinTIC.

The MinTIC continues to support these training sessions to strengthen cybersecurity capacities for students who are starting in the field of technology. “We hope that this initiative shows that Colombia continues to prepare for an increasingly digital world. Talents such as those being trained today are the professionals who will face the risks that the use of technology sometimes brings,” added Cifuentes, inviting the selected young people to make the most of the training to contribute to the digital transformation of the country.

“At Citi, we are convinced that contributing to the education of low-income youth is the best way to promote a sustainable and more equitable future in our country. In an era marked by digitalization, it is essential to have professionals with the ability to innovate in computer security since there are more and more personal and business transactions and activities that we do on these channels every day. We hope to continue being part of this type of initiative that will stimulate the employability and progress of Colombian young people,” said Pablo del Valle, Citi Country Officer in Colombia.

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 Digital Security’ program and ongoing collaboration with the Citi Foundation, the OAS continues to support training qualified 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, vice president, Citi LATAM Corporate Citizenship and Government Affairs, said: “One of the lessons derived from the pandemic is that digitalization is inevitable. As we continue to grow in the digital space we must, 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,” she said.

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.

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