"We will train 1 million people" claims Fortinet (Image Credit: Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash)Fortinet has publicly pledged to train 1 million people to help close the cybersecurity skills gap. The training will be made available over the next five years through a series of initiatives, programmes and partnerships. Those initiatives and programs are designed to widen the pool of trainees to include minorities, women and other communities. Those completing the training will also receive industry recognised certifications which will assist them in getting employment.

Ken Xie, Founder, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Fortinet
Ken Xie, Founder, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Fortinet

Ken Xie, Founder, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer at Fortinet said: “On the heels of the Biden Administration calling for cross-sector leaders to tackle the cybersecurity challenges affecting organizations and people globally, Fortinet is furthering its commitment to significantly reduce the cyber skills gap as part of this initiative.

“With the rise of sophisticated threats, organizations are more at risk than ever before. To further address these issues, today Fortinet announced additional outcomes we will strive to achieve as we grow our programs and strategic partnerships to address the talent shortage that plagues our industry, ultimately reducing security risks and threats.”

Although Xie was responding to the Biden administration announcement earlier this week, the training will not be solely US-centric. Fortinet has been providing support to various groups around the work when it comes to cybersecurity training.

Who will deliver the Fortinet training pledge?

Fortinet has been active in a number of different forums for some time as its Education Outreach Program shows. Among the groups listed are a number that work with veterans, several that support women and minorities and also large vendors such as IBM and Salesforce.

In the announcement, Fortinet said that the training would be delivered through:

What is even more impressive here is that there is no “end date” on either the exams or the courses. Compare this to Oracle’s attempt to play catch-up where exams are only free until the end of 2021. It doesn’t give people much chance to skill-up or improve the skills in the customer base.

Part of the reason that Fortinet is doing this is because it has always supported third-party training under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program. While it is not the only vendor doing this, it is providing a more open environment than many. What would be interesting is to see how much money this is costing the company. Many organisations cap their CSR programs to a percentage of their yearly profits or, in rare cases, turnover.

Not just about IT security

Much of the focus of cybersecurity training tends to be around the IT department. What is becoming increasingly clear is that Operational Technology (OT), which includes IoT, is a black hole for many security teams. To that end, Fortinet has recently added a new OT security course. It is part of its NSE level 7 certification.

It has also added a new education pathway for Operational Technology. This is more than just a set of training courses, it is also listing potential job opportunities in the domain. It also comes with a roadmap on training and certifications for anyone looking at an OT security role.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

One of the challenges of closing the gap between available candidates and vacancies in cybersecurity is bypassing the gatekeeping. Much of that is based around the “you need a degree” approach that deliberately disqualifies a lot of people. Many of those people come from minority and even military backgrounds where they have practical skills but didn’t do a degree.

Fortinet is sidelining those gatekeepers by making no such educational requirements for those who want to do its courses. It is also making those courses free through its programs and adding in industry recognised certifications. It is a move that should reflect well on the company if it delivers on its promises.

What is interesting is the 1 million people over 5 years promise. Quite how it will separate out those using these services from those attending more formal training is not clear. Despite that, this is ambitious and will hopefully put pressure on others in the industry to stop the posturing around post-school education and start training people with aptitude and a thirst for knowledge.


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