A few years ago, the EC launched 4 pilot projects, namely SPARTA, CONCORDIA, ECHO and CyberSec4Europe in an attempt to take a leading role in developing an EU cybersecurity competence ecosystem. These pilot projects bring together more than 160 partners, including large companies, SMEs, universities and cybersecurity research institutes from 26 EU Member States.
The four pilots have been asked to collaborate and coordinate their activities to address the most critical challenges facing EU: i.e. increasing shortages of cybersecurity professionals, availability of relevant training and certification programs that have been tailored to specific sector requirements, etc.
During the past 18 months of SPARTA implementation, a team of experts extensively analysed the state of the knowledge regarding cyber skills management, skill gaps in industry, skills requirements, adequate provision of sectoral training, cybersecurity skills frameworks, and proposed a way forward with the development of an EU based cybersecurity skills framework (hereinafter CSF), as an agreed link between main stakeholders.
The first draft of CSF was introduced to the key stakeholders ENISA, ECSO, EC and the 4 pilots, and this was validated by industry partners and academia. Feedback, comments and insights were carefully taken into consideration and outlined in a plan for further development of CSF. At a concluding Roadmap Workshop, open questions were formulated and put forward to kick start further discussions on the establishment of an EU based CSF governance model and management strategy.
SPARTA CSF was well accepted by EC and the cyber community. Nonetheless, to achieve a conceptual breakthrough and a uniform cyber skills management approach on a Member States level requires the integration of three main pillars: an effective governance model, recognition and dissemination among different stakeholders.
Being the largest contributor to SPARTA CSF, the Lithuanian Cybercrime Center of Excellence for Training, Research and Education (hereinafter L3CE) proposed to establish a “Cybersecurity Skills Alliance – New Vision for Europe” (hereinafter REWIRE). On a broader scope and larger geographical scale, such a consortium could promote the continued implementation of SPARTA CSF. Since the ERASMUS+ program was leveraged for this, confirmed funding for the next 4 years will be instrumental in achieving the necessary development, geographical spread, and usage.
REWIRE brings together 12 education and training providers, 11 partners representing industry and certification, and two EU umbrella organisations for Vocational Education & Training (hereafter VET) from 12 EU countries. These REWIRE participants will work together on developing a new sectoral strategic approach for effective cooperation on cybersecurity skills and support improved matching between skill needs of the market and skills provided by the relevant education and training organisations.
Building on and consolidating the results and lessons learned from the four pilot projects (CONCORDIA, SPARTA, ECHO, CyberSec4Europe), REWIRE will provide a blueprint for constructing and implementing the framework and tools necessary for enhancing the cybersecurity skills portfolio in Europe. Taking into account activities, milestones, outcomes and outputs of the four projects above, the REWIRE initiative aims to:
- Develop a common methodology for the assessment of the current situation and to anticipate future needs through the identification of existing and emerging skills needs.
- Create a European Cybersecurity Skills Observatory integrated by specific actions, activities and tools that allow for anticipation and matching of skills supply and demands.
- Support the strategy and framework through the implementation of a digital on-line publicly accessible European Cybersecurity Skills Digital Observatory – CyberABILITY (for cybersecurity skills that merge market needs, profiles, competencies and available training courses).
- Expand a Cybersecurity Skills Framework containing profiles for the needed cybersecurity profiles and their analysis.
- Pilot a federated cyber range hosted by multiple project partners.
- Create networks to improve skills intelligence and information mechanisms, and strengthening the exchange of knowledge and practice between the cybersecurity industry and the VET providers, adapting VET provision to the skills needs to be demanded by the sector.
REWIRE is an excellent example of effective collaboration between existing cybersecurity competence clusters on local, national and EU levels that will be used to channel and scale up results developed by SPARTA and other pilot projects.
Consider that current efforts by Member States to develop their own cybersecurity skills frameworks and launch policy actions to address immediate needs do not have consistency on the EU level. Thus, REWIRE aims to cross borders of Member States by developing a common vocabulary for the whole of EU to ensure a common taxonomy, as well as a common understanding and much–improved mobility of skills across the Member States.
Over the long-term, the cyber competence development ecosystem started by SPARTA and further explored by REWIRE will create a lasting partnership among different groups of stakeholders. These, in turn, will monitor and adjust to changes in sector needs, facilitate transnational mobility between stakeholders, provide transversal skills, as well as career guidance and access to the labour market, thus improving long-term employability in the Cybersecurity sector.
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SPARTA project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 830892.
Cybersecurity Skills Alliance – A New Vision for Europe (REWIRE) project has received funding from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices action under grant agreement No 621701-EPP-1-2020-1-LT-EPPKA2-SSA-B.