Transversal Cyber Talent
One-line solution summary:
With our AI-enabled toolkit, we mobilise left-behind talent into cyber-careers through automated mapping of transferable non-IT skills
Pitch your solution.
The problem we are committed to solving is the lack of educational diversity within global cyber talent. Cyber organizations undermine recruitment by not mirroring the communities from which they are looking to recruit; globally, 70% of cyber talent comes from an IT background. Vulnerable populations, namely women, migrants and indigenous populations, are left behind in IT fields and are thus disproportionately affected. Our transferable skills mapping toolkit gives students and recruiters a common, standardised language to communicate the value of existing transferable non-IT skills, and match these skills to suitable cyber roles. Our tool further helps talent and recruiters zone in on specific gaps for digital literacy and upskilling to keep pace with evolving cyber field. Scaled globally, our solution mobilises more underrepresented talent into good cyber and other tech jobs and ensures our future workforce is as diverse as the challenges we are facing.
What specific problem are you solving?
Globally, 70% of cyber talent comes from an IT background, despite the interdisciplinary nature of the field. This lack of educational diversity belies a long-accepted systemic equivalency between cyber skills and IT skills, that is harmful in excluding individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in cybersecurity roles, and also fails to tap into the vast amount of available talent already present in our communities. As an example, in our Montreal community, job posts from leading companies and admissions for cybersecurity university programmes have strict IT prerequisites. Individuals are not only excluded from these good jobs but also from the digital learning and upskilling opportunities within these jobs.
According to Gartner's study, cyber job descriptions profile an ideal candidate who likely does not exist. Cybersecurity covers a range of fast growing disciplines, and cyber leaders should be investing in training rather than requiring all skills upfront. Gartner argues that traditional recruitment techniques are inadequate in the current job market, and cybersecurity leaders will need to employ alternative recruiting techniques to build resilient future workforce. We want to ensure that in employing these new recruitment techniques that prioritise upskilling, underrepresented talent are included in the strategy from the get go.
What is your solution?
Our solution empowers underrepresented talent and recruiters with a common language to communicate the value of non-IT transferable skills. Our transferable skills mapping solution maps an individual's non-IT skills gained from any education discipline to best-fit cybersecurity roles.
As data points, the tool combines:
- Detailed self-reported transferable skills from 20+ (more planned) education disciplines
- Cyber industry hiring requirements queried from real job posts
- Standardised Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) from the NIST’s NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework
- 14 cybersecurity job categories, each with its own sub-roles
We assess and synthesise the above to recommend the best fit cybersecurity jobs for a non-IT applicant.
With this tool, students and entry-level professionals can benefit from our smart recommendations engine that will inform them of the cyber roles most suitable for their skills.
On the other hand, industry recruiters can integrate our tool into their recruitment process. Depending on the job opening, we will be automatically providing them with a transferable skills/degrees matrix, as well as wording recommendations for the job posts.
For both job applicants and recruiters, our solution will allow them to focus in on specific skill gaps worth investing in for upskilling and learning, and tailor these efforts.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
We serve individuals who are traditionally left behind by New Economy roles, including non-technical graduates who are overwhelmingly women, migrants, minorities and indigenous populations. We also help industry stakeholders and education stakeholders who are committed to diversifying talent sourcing beyond traditional talent.
We see a huge opportunity for such underrepresented talent enter and develop their skills in cybersecurity, a fast evolving field which is suffering from severe workforce shortage.
With the solution, the different stakeholders can achieve the following:
Individuals can improve their employability, and find inspiration to make new and meaningful career moves they may not have realised were open to them.
Individuals from under-represented groups can tailor their cover letters and resumes to show off their transferable skills to cyber employers.
Individuals can access upskilling opportunities in digital and technology literacy through these education and industry organisations, once they are admitted or hired
Employers can identify upskilling needs of employees in a more tailored way
Employers can experiment with their hiring practices to make their workplaces more enticing to non-traditional workers (e.g., updating job ads with skills identified by our solution)
Education institutions can help students from diverse backgrounds to pursue different interests and increase their post-graduation employability
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Equip workers with technological and digital literacy as well as the durable skills needed to stay apace with the changing job market
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
Our solutions equips non-IT talent, who are left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with a tool to capitalise on the potential of their existing skills from any education discipline, and transfer them as durable skills to matched cyber roles. Additionally, our solution empowers companies and education institutions to focus cyber recruitment on future needs, prioritising resilient diverse talent instead of the elusive perfect talent. Our tool further enables non-IT talent and recruiters to zone in on specific skills gaps worth investing in for upskilling and learning. The framework can be scaled up to other tech sectors.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Montreal, QC, Canada
What is your solution’s stage of development?Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
Global Shapers Community Montreal - Kathy Liu
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Our thesis is that the current lack of educational diversity in cybersecurity belies a long-accepted systemic equivalency between cyber skills and IT skills. We address this systemic issue by breathing power to existing transferable skills from non-IT disciplines, making them more durable to changing job market through matching their potential to cyber roles.
Out of existing solutions, Textio helps organizations diversify hiring by re-writing job postings to reduce verbal bias. GapJumper introduces blind hiring, reducing unconscious bias. While these tools control bias, they do not expand the hiring pool or directly empower non-IT talent.
A solution that resembles our approach is Emsi, a skill matching engine for a wide range of professions. However;
(1) Their broad approach early-on in their product-life thins down their usefulness for particular sectors, including in cybersecurity. They only cover 4 types of cyber roles, whereas our product has incorporated 14 specialty areas, with multiple sub-roles, giving end-users specific career and upskilling paths
(2) Their recommended skills are skewed towards technology, whereas we recognise the value of both technical and non-technical skills as durable skills for an ever evolving job market.
Building a skills mapping framework from scratch is a non-trivial process, requiring in-depth expertise and intense data collection. We are uniquely positioned to achieve this given extensive network of youths through the World Economic Forum Global Shapers. The global network allowed us to collect representative and critical mass of data to prove our thesis, before extending the approach via data mining and technology automation.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Up to now our data collection process has been manual, based on our extensive network. Using representative inputs from graduates from a range of non-IT education disciplines, we built our prototype: a framework mapping non-IT skills to specific cyber roles. We have already started testing this prototype with design partners.
Our next phase of validation involves scaling up our data collection exponentially and systematizing the learning out of it. This will allow our solution to respond to reflect skill changes in the job market.
To achieve this end we look to apply an existing technology. The best available sources for us include the Economic Graph Research project by Linkedin(data-set of over 0.5B records) and similar initiatives from workforce technology companies. Economic Graph in particular provides not-for-profit teams with access to de-identified dataset on workforce, skills, education backgrounds and employment. LinkedIn, being the hosting platform, further enables our end users to be inspired by real life success cases, and be connected to people to opportunities.
We are designing the data science pipeline in order to mine this de-identified data-set (including job titles, degree titles, base, age, reported skills etc). Using textual analysis techniques, specifically Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (tf-idf), we aim to extract the underlying patterns among skills, non-traditional studies and cyber roles, so we can provide closer matches for our target audience.
The World Economic Forum (which we are an initiative of) is already a committed partner of the Economic Graph.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Our technology of choice is Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (tf-idf). This technique involved numerical statistics intended to reflect how important a word is to a collection of documents – in our case to a collection of Linkedin profiles. It a widely-used technique; for example, a survey conducted in 2015 revealed that 83% of text-based recommender systems in digital libraries use tf–idf. There have already been implementations of tf-idf for skills mapping. Specifically, the LinkedIn Economic Graph team itself published recently a skills genome map for emerging jobs, which used tf-idf.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Our solution will be an one-stop shop for graduates from non-IT backgrounds who are considering a cyber (or widely tech) careers, and recruiters who are looking for cyber talent. This solution transforms the cyber talent supply and demand and ultimately how cyber recruitment is conducted.
Demand: Depending on the job opening, we will be automatically providing recruiters with a transferable skills/degrees matrix, as well as wording recommendations for the job profiles. Given the global cyber talent gap, our tool encourages recruiters to leverage overlooked complementary skills in adjacent fields. The skills matrix will also highlight skill gaps, to allow employers to focus on training and upskilling efforts, to reward continuous learning down the line.
Supply: Our smart recommendations engine that will inform job-seekers of the cyber roles most suitable for their non-IT skills. Through this, we empower underrepresented talent to pursue cybersecurity roles, openning doors for opportunities to upskill and train in digital literacy. Our solution serves non-technical talent and vulnerable populations such as women, minorities, migrants and indigenous populations who are left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Our solution exists so much beyond the tool. We are building a talent ecosystem in collaboration with local communities, companies and universities, who can leverage our adaptable and scalable toolkit in ways most suitable to their needs. The wider impact we look to achieve is to catalyse transformational sector-wide culture change and paradigm shifts around how people think about the future cybersecurity professional. This change is incredibly important as it will ensure an inclusive and sustainable pipeline of talent into new economy jobs.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
We are currently serving
- One recruitment consulting agency in Montreal with outreach to significant technology firms in the city.
- Members of the larger Montreal community
- On March 5th 2020, we reached out to 150+ community members as part of our #CYBERWOMEN event. 2 months after the event, one participant landed a cyber job, and transitioned from a non-technical career, 2 others have reached out as being in the process.
- College (CEGEP) students: On January 24 2020, we spoke at Montreal social innovation bootcamp to 100+ college participants from 20+ Montreal schools. On June 13th 2020, we witnessed students' presentation of 2 cyber products.
- On April 16th, we tested our Public Policy cyber skills mapping at a local Montreal Public Policy school, and received positive interest on transition to cyber careers
We aim to serve
- 1 year from now: we aim to work with 10 recruitment teams and/or agencies, and impact the lives of more than 80 people landing cyber jobs
- 5 years from now: we aim to work with more than 200 recruitment teams and/or recruitment agencies, and impact the lives of more than 10,000 people landing cyber jobs
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
- 1 year from now, we are planning to work with 10 recruitment teams and/or recruitment agencies, and impact the lives of more than 80 people landing cyber jobs and upskilling within them. Our target market is Montreal and Toronto.
- 5 years from now, we are planning to work with more than 200 recruitment teams and/or agencies, 10 education institutions and impact the lives of more than 10,000 people landing cyber jobs and upskilling within them. Our target market will expand beyond Canada to the US, and our partner in Kigali Rwanda
We are planning to achieve these goals through tight-knit partnership with select recruitment teams within organisations and recruitment agencies. The core characteristics of these agencies are: deep penetration into the cyber-security sector, focus on entry-level roles, and a business model built around diversity.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
- Technical implementation
- Building our technology requires deep Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing skillsets, including tf-idf, which we currently lack
- Skill Mapping Reviewers
- As we close out the building of the profiles, looking for help to ensure standardisation in language across the profiles
- Product testing
- Universities - departments that match our skills mappings (e.g., Health studies, Finance)
- Communities -
- Design Expertise (Potential monetary outsourcing)
- User experience (UX), designing and packaging the product
- Support from experts
- International validation and examination of the Skills Mapping created with a seal of recognition
- Intellectual property advisement
- Translation of finished Skills Mappings to French and other languages
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
Plan for addressing the barriers:
- Technical Implementation
- Partnering with the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab and MIT Natural Language Processing Group via MIT Solve
- Leverage team members with software engineering backgrounds
- Skill Mapping Reviewers
- Hiring a communications specialist to ensure the standardisation of language
- Leverage the Global Shapers community of 9000+ members
- Product testing
- Adding a core member with strong ties with the recruitment industry
- Design Expertise
- Paid outsourcing to a part-time designer
- Support from experts
- Acquiring pro-bono services from intellectual property lawyers
- Outsourcing the Skills Mapping translation to existing multilingual members of our Global Shapers community from 400+ cities around the world
What type of organization is your solution team?Other, including part of a larger organization (please explain below)
If you selected Other, please explain here.
The solution team are members the Global Shapers Community Montreal hub; the Global Shapers Community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. It is a network of 9000+ young people driving dialogue, action and change in 148 countries. The Montreal hub is a volunteer organisation, registering for Not for Profit status by July/August 2020. Each hub has a mandate to deliver projects within 3 main areas of impact, one of which is Education and Employment.
In addition to the core Montreal solution team, Global Shapers from Kigali, Toronto and San Francisco are also our product build partners.
How many people work on your solution team?
We have 8 core Global Shaper Community - Montreal hub members, and 2 community team members all working part-time. Our diverse team's expertise range from cybersecurity, product development, software engineering, recruitment, education, communication, SEO optimisation to business development.
The Global Shapers Montreal team overall has approximately 30 members working on as-need basis on this solution. They support us in communication strategy, partnerships, and event planning.
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
The Global Shapers Community (GSC) is a grassroots community that champions youth-led solutions for change. Its Montreal team is well-positioned to deliver this solution for the following reasons.
- Grassroots community knowledge and network:for instance, with our community-focus approach, in March, the team convened #CYBERWOMEN, bringing together 150+ community members to discuss the transition of women from non-technical backgrounds to cyber security
- Diversity: we have 30+ unique members within the Montreal team who come from diverse backgrounds, industries and areas of expertise, mirroring the diversity in the cyber talent pipeline we hope to achieve. Our diverse team's expertise range from cybersecurity, product development, software engineering, recruitment, education, communication, SEO optimisation to business development.
- Global Perspective: the GSC spans 400+ cities globally, giving our team avenues to readily scale up and export the solution post-pilot
- Impact driven: At the GSC, we believe in leveraging technology to inform policy and long lasting change, through clearly measurable impact. This is why we started testing the product with end users through our recruitment and education partners.
The Project Lead is personally well-positioned to deliver this solution. She envisioned this project as she made her own transition to cybersecurity from Public Policy, matching only 20% of job posits. Her article on importance of this solution is published in the World Economic Forum Agenda.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
The solution, developed within the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum ["the Forum"]) has partnerships with Global Shaper hubs in Kigali and San Francisco who contribute to the skills mapping content. With 9000 Global Shapers around the world in 400+ cities, future partnerships with other cities are in the plan.
At a local level, the project is supported by a Montreal multisectorial organisation comprised of leading cyber industry and academic leaders. These partners have validated the approach, and are prepared to be involved in the first deployments of our product.
Our design partner is a Montreal consultancy firm focused on tech industry recruitment diversity. They will be piloting the solution with their clients.
What is your business model?
As a youth-led volunteer/NFP organisation with deep roots in the city we serve, our organisation mission is focused on developing impactful solutions for vulnerable populations in our community.
Value Proposition: We help individuals left behind by digital transformations to realise and capitalise the value of their existing non-IT skills to transition into upskilling opportunities in cyber or other tech sectors. Our biggest value is closing the confidence gap that many feel in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Key resources: Our most important resource are our people, their diverse expertise and empathetic leadership; for us this comes from the diverse Global Shapers Community Montreal hub, and sister hubs in 400+ cities.
Type of intervention: Our skills mapping tool will be a web-based product. We also leverage our key position in the city to host targeted workshops and speaker events to bring awareness to the issue we are solving and to demo our product. We rely on our partners for service delivery.
Partners and Channels: We do not directly provide consulting services on our product, but instead work in conjunction with our delivery partners who connect the product to the end-user. Our partners & stakeholders include:
- Community organisations, e.g., Refugee centres, to reach out target audience
- Recruitment consulting firms focused on tech industry
- Recruitment teams within cyber firms
- Education admissions teams within universities
- Career services within universities
After successfully piloting in Montreal, other sister hubs in 400+ cities will be in a position to scale up the product in their local economies.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
As a volunteer/ not-for-profit organisation, we rely on in-kind and financial resources of our global 9000 people Global Shapers network and our partners, fundraising efforts, and grants.
Why are you applying to Solve?
We are applying to Solve for the following three reasons:
- Technical expert advice
- Go-to-Market refinement and channel partnerships
- Access to funding
In more detail:
1) Technical expert advice
Our next phase of growth involves scaling up our data collection and mining. Our technology design involves a ML platform setup, utilizing the Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (tf-idf) method. As we do not currently have such expertise in the team, it will be critical to obtain technical guidance by the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab and MIT Natural Language Processing Group.
2) Go-to-Market refinement and channel partnerships
Solve boasts a unique network of not-for-profit organizations, experts, and mentor, and a structured nine-month program. Our goal is to make the most use of these resources in order to refine our Go-to-Market and establish solid channel partnerships. More specifically, we want to leverage the connections with recruitment agencies, diversity-promoting NGOs, and MIT’s career services. These channel partnerships will be critical in achieving an exponential growth of our outreach to our end user.
3) Access to funding
We have achieved our current prototyping stage without any funding, just by leveraging our skills and the Global Shapers resources. However, in order to take the initiative to the next stage, we need to assign financing towards technical development and more intensive user outreach. Solve represents for us a unique opportunity to obtain this necessary funding, alongside the in-kind support.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
We are aiming to partner with MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab, alongside MIT Natural Language Processing Group.
Up to now our data collection process has been manual, based on our extensive network. Our next phase of growth involves scaling up our data collection exponentially and systematizing the learning out of it.
The best available sources for us include the Economic Graph Research project by Linkedin and similar initiatives from workforce technology companies. Such initiatives provide not-for-profit teams with access to de-identified datasets, fit for the scope of each project.
Our goal is to utilize this de-identified data-set including job titles, degree titles, base, age, reported skills etc, as means to extract underlying patterns and improve our skills mapping framework.
This analysis of over 0.5B records can unlock a better understanding of the correlation between cyber-careers, academic backgrounds and skills.
At the same time, such endeavor requires deep technical skillsets, that we do not currently have in our team. Hence, a partnership with the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab and MIT Natural Language Processing Group would be critical.