The University of Melbourne and Edith Cowan University (ECU) will share $1.91 million over four years to train thousands of cyber security professionals required to fill a global skills shortage in the industry.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham made the announcement and said the Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence fill the immediate skills gap and would assist to meet the demand of future job growth.
"These centres will help meet the unique challenges we face in the digital age by preparing a new generation of graduates to increase our cyber security workforce," said Minister Birmingham.
"The centres will encourage more students to take up undergraduate and postgraduate studies and research in cyber security and broaden the range of professionals capable of supporting a cyber-secure nation in to the future. Our ambition is to attract more of Australia's best and brightest into this critically important area, regardless of their background."
It is estimated there will be a shortfall of more than 1.5 million cyber security professionals around the world by 2020. Meanwhile, almost 20 per cent of positions in the sector in Australia will go unfilled because of a lack of trained professionals.
ECU vice-chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said the university is ready to continue to lead in the field of cyber security.
"This announcement further recognises ECU as a leader in cyber security research and teaching nationally," he said.
"Since 2001, more than 1,000 cyber security professionals have graduated from ECU’s cyber security program – one of the longest running undergraduate cyber security degree programs in Australia."
ECU School of Science executive dean Professor Andrew Woodward said the cyber security industry is booming, with more job security available than other industries.
"The industry is booming globally right now. It has been for the past decade and will continue to boom into the next decade," he said.
"Unlike industries such as mining and construction, which can boom and bust – we’re only connecting more devices to the internet and that means more demand for cyber security professionals.
"That demand is being fed by the realisation that companies outside the tech industry need trained cyber security personnel.
"The high profile cyber attacks on the UK health system, the Democratic Party in the US and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are showing how badly we need trained professionals."
ECU currently has long standing agreements with a range of industry and government organisations including WA Police, Australian Federal Police, Cisco, Interpol, Woodside, Emirates Airlines and CERT Australia.
The new funding will also aim to help improve the awareness of cyber security issues among the general public.
This includes programs to encourage more school-age children to study STEM subjects related to cyber security, short courses for those already in the workforce and opportunities for TAFE students to move into university study.