In our conversations with European decision makers and partners in recent years, cybersecurity has been a near-constant topic of conversation. Global cyberattacks increased by nearly 40% in 2022 and we expect these trends to continue to grow in the years ahead. In the year following the war in Ukraine, Russian-backed phishing attacks more than tripled against people in Ukraine and quadrupled against people in NATO countries.
As well as taking action against these attempts and protecting people and organizations across the world, a key part of our response to these growing threats is to increase the cybersecurity skills of people and businesses across Europe.
According to the EU, the shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the EU was up to 500,000 in 2022. In our own research released earlier this year, 46% of SMEs said they had been unable to hire cybersecurity staff due to lack of qualified specialists, the cost of hiring them, or SMEs not being attractive workplaces for cyber experts. And the pressure is on, as 43% of these SMEs told us they had experienced a cyberattack in the last 24 months.
Building cybersecurity resilience through skills
This is why, as part of our broader commitment to advancing cybersecurity globally and helping build a robust workforce in Europe, we are announcing the launch of the new Google Cybersecurity Certificate.
Designed by Google experts with decades of experience, the online training program will help prepare learners for entry-level jobs in cybersecurity in less than six months, with no relevant experience required, creating greater opportunities for people and helping to fill the growing number of open cyber roles.
The Certificate builds on the success of our broader Career Certificates program: low-cost, product agnostic, flexible online training designed to help people prepare for jobs in high growth fields such as Data Analytics, Digital Marketing & E-commerce and more.
Google Career Certificates are already having a real impact, with nearly 50,000 graduates* in the European Union, and over 80% of graduates** reporting a positive career impact, such as a new job, higher pay or a promotion, within six months of completion.
And to help people complete these courses, Google.org — Google’s philanthropic arm — has provided scholarships to vulnerable learners through a grant to INCO, who support NGOs across Europe. So far 21,000 learners who face systemic barriers to learning opportunities have successfully completed the Career Certificates through INCO’s Work in Tech program, with the help of a tailored support system that could include childcare, language support or mentoring, for example.
Extending the opportunity to all
To help ensure a diverse talent pipeline for the cybersecurity sector in Europe, Google.org will be rolling out a number of programmes throughout the year as part of a new European Cybersecurity Fund.
The first initiative of the new fund will focus on increasing the number of women with expertise in the sector. Through a total of $1 million in grant funding to INCO and Women4Cyber, they will offer 1,000 women from lower socio-economic backgrounds across Europe scholarships to take the Cybersecurity Certificate free of charge. They will also provide tailored wraparound support throughout the entire learning journey, including mentorship, peer-to-peer groups and job interview preparation.
Continuing to invest in the ecosystem
These are just the latest in our ongoing efforts to build cybersecurity resilience across the European ecosystem. As a part of our Grow with Google programs, we developed dedicated training, available in 19 languages, to help SME owners strengthen their cybersecurity skills. We partner closely with governments, industry experts and local organisations to understand where the greatest needs lie and tailor our training to meet them. For instance in Spain, we have partnered with BBVA, Women4Cyber, and the local Chamber of Commerce to deliver workshops to SMEs, supporting company owners to protect their business and train employees.
We recently announced the first participants in the Google for Startups Growth Academy: Cybersecurity. In addition to three months of hands-on programming and workshops, this cohort will have access to mentoring sessions with Google experts, can benefit from our collaboration with public and private sector partners, and connect via our newest Google Safety Engineering Center, opening later this year in Malaga, Spain.
As more business is conducted digitally, the nature of support and skills provided will naturally need to evolve to reflect growing challenges in cybersecurity and the need to build cyber-resilience to build a safer world for all.
*all-time graduates in the EU (27), 2018-2023
**based on the program graduates survey, EU (27), 2022).