Microsoft and TupuToa, a social enterprise focussed on growing Māori and Pacific leaders in Aotearoa, have announced a new partnership that aims to create more diversity in the country's cybersecurity sector.
The deals will see TupuToa and the US technology giant working together to co-develop a cybersecurity employment program aiming to build new career pathways.
New Zealand was one of 23 countries selected by Microsoft to receive funding under a global initiative targeted at closing the cybersecurity skills gap, recognising the increased risk to local businesses from cyber threats as well as the need to address diversity within the cybersecurity industry.
"We're really excited to be the chosen partner with Microsoft on this mahi," Anne Fitisemanu, CEO of TupuToa, said.
"We have a proven track record of providing training and experience to more than 1000 Māori and Pacific Island peoples, and helping them take up and thrive in full time roles in technology.
"With this new programme, we’ll be able to offer even more tauira (students) pathways into technology careers, and help make Aotearoa a safer place for all New Zealanders at the same time."
Under the new agreement, TupuToa will receive significant funding to work alongside partners including Microsoft, Te Pūkenga and other public and private sector organisations.
The training program will be designed to ensure participants are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to become security professionals.
Students will be further supported in their training with wraparound pastoral care from TupuToa, including access to further programmes such as Kōkiri Workshops (work readiness workshops) and opportunities to access financial literacy training.
In addition, TupuToa will work with Microsoft and other tech partners to support trainees into roles.
"Cybersecurity continues to be a significant threat for governments, businesses and individuals around the world," said Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director at Microsoft New Zealand.
"From supply chain disruptions to ransomware attacks, cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated and the threat landscape more diverse.
"Recent Microsoft research found demand for skills in the cyber security sector grew 22 percent in New Zealand last year alone.
"These cybersecurity challenges are compounded by a workforce shortage; there simply aren’t enough people with the cybersecurity skills needed to fill open jobs in New Zealand."