Israel focuses on training the next generation to pilot its cyber systems

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TEL AVIV: Like Israel continues to invest heavily in hitech innovation and R&D, the Israel National Internet Directorate General (INCD) is actively working to advance the next generation of human capital that will lead the field of cyber systems, lead Israel’s cyber industry and leverage it in local and international arenas.
This is done by advancing training programs and educational projects that seamlessly integrate Israeli youth into the worlds of cybersecurity and information security. As former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett shared at the Cyber ​​Week event just a few days ago, “We have a lot of investment and stuff, we just need more good people and we’ve exhausted the immediate bucket of talent.”
Israel is a pioneer in the field of cyber securityhaving attracted $8.8 billion in investment and 41% of total global investment in the sector in 2021.
Much of Israel’s cybersecurity talent pool comes from years of Israeli scouting, training and conditioning young recruits. defense forces. An experiment with the IDF’s cyber defense and 8,200 intelligence corps units has spawned many success stories in cybertech startups, but Israel is now considering four different sources of new talent — Haredim, Arab women, those from the periphery and even the Palestinians – according to Bennet.
Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, are exempt from mandatory military service while performing their religious activities in yeshivas. “They are really smart and not part of the economy. My approach wasn’t popular and now it’s policy, we have to provide them with an exemption for the army and let them join the workforce instead of forcing them to stay in yeshivas till 24 years old. It’s difficult because they don’t know English. It may not be the right thing, but it is the right thing,” Bennett says. The move has its own critics among Orthodox voices who see it as an attempt to alienate the community from tradition.
The second largest talent pool that the nation – which has built an enviable national cyber-ecosystem that spans the defense forces, government agencies, the private sector actively facilitated by the government, an education system that introduces cyber-literacy as early as middle school and thriving start-ups, many run by former IDF members and 8,200 intelligence corps units – look is fueled by Arab women whose employment levels are extremely low. “We want to bring in a lot of smart Arab women and we are working on it. The high-tech industry needs to be open to bringing in those who are different and not in the same club,” Bennett says.
The third talent pool is made up of high-tech professionals from outlying areas outside of Tel Aviv such as Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba (the desert city of Beersheba, by the way, is already the new center of cybertech with defense units, Cert-IL, start up coordinator Cyber ​​7 and Ben Gurion University located there). “It’s only 40 minutes away. For many years north and south have been underserved and it’s just a stupid policy of Israel and when I was a minister I pushed to give them access to 5 math units. We’re working hard in grades 11 and 12 to get them to 8,200,” Bennett said during a session during Cyber ​​Week held June 27-30 here.
Interestingly, Bennett also endorsed the immediate membership of Palestinian employees in Israeli high-tech, including free movement to come here.
Meanwhile, Israel is also monitoring its 1.5 lakh strong high-tech diaspora and offering them incentives to work in Israel and fill the immediate shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel. A key example is Sidney Gottesman, the Israeli-born CEO of Mastercard who renounced US citizenship to move to Israel and established the Finsec Innovation Lab in Beersheba.
“Our main mission within the defense establishment is to foster this community, train our personnel and keep them with us. We are constantly evaluating force building in terms of human resources, training and missions,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said during Cyber ​​Week.
In recent years, the INCD has unveiled special programs to develop human capital in cyberspace beyond commonly accepted boundaries.
These include Mamriot (Rising Up) focused on Zionist high school girls; Magshimim AI for talented high school students from the geo-socio periphery of Israel; Odyssey, a national program focused on extremely gifted and highly talented students in grades 9-12, which involves students taking college courses while developing their cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills; and the Gsharim (Bridges) program which offers junior high school students who live in the socio-geographical periphery of Israel, an opportunity to positively experience the foundational skills required in the future of the workforce through to technological and computer studies.
Marriott (Rising Up) is a joint venture of Israel’s National Cybersecurity Directorate (INCD) and the Rashi Foundation’s Cyber ​​Education Center, this program targets high school girls from the religious Zionist sector who intend to volunteer for service national level and helps them qualify to serve in Israel’s major cyber defense agencies. For more than three years, from grades 10 to 12, the program provides specialized cyber and technology training in weekly after-school sessions, as well as personal counseling. The program was launched in 2018; in 2021, it was extended to Grade 9 in dozens of locations.
Magshimim AI is a comprehensive AI (artificial intelligence), data and computer science program for talented high school students in the geo-socio periphery of Israel. The goal of the program is to equip its participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to occupy key positions in IDF (Israel Defense Forces) units that focus on these technological areas.
Over three years, from grades 10 to 12, the program provides specialized training in data science, advanced math, statistics, and computer science in weekly extracurricular sessions, as well as personal counseling.
The program was launched in 2021 with 4 classes.
Odyssey is a national program run by the Center for Future Scientists of the Maimonides Fund, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education’s Department for Talented and Gifted Young People, and the INCD. The program is designed for extremely gifted and highly talented students in grades 9 through 12, and it involves students taking academic courses while developing their cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills. Under the program, participants earn academic credit as undergraduate students. The program operates at six of Israel’s major academic institutions,
Many graduates are admitted to elite IDF programs, such as Talpiot, 8200, while continuing to complete their education before/during military service.
Under the Gsharim (Bridges) program, participants overcome obstacles, allowing them to choose to specialize in areas of cybersecurity in high school. Program participants learn and experiment with various technological skills such as application and website development, cybersecurity and AI; Through basic coding, they develop logical thinking, express their creativity and build their self-confidence. Participants develop technological products, from ideation to design and programming. The teachers in the classroom are IDF Education and Youth Corps soldiers. Gsharim is led by the Israeli intelligence corps IDF-8200 unit.
(The correspondent is in Tel Aviv as a guest of the Israeli Foreign Ministry)
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