Professional development

Partnering to close the cyber skills gap: 6 questions with Coursera

Jack Koziol
June 17, 2021 by
Jack Koziol

Today, there are almost half a million open cybersecurity roles in the United States. 

For those in the cybersecurity industry, this comes as no surprise. The cyber skills gap and talent shortage has been a top challenge for the security industry for several years. And with the current wave of cyberattacks making headlines, we’re seeing firsthand the critical role a fully staffed and skilled cybersecurity team plays to keep organizations and their data secure. 

The bad news is that there is no silver bullet. But the great news is that by making cybersecurity reskilling, upskilling and training more accessible, flexible and personalized, organizations can fill these gaps and build an effective security team. Industry collaborations, like Infosec’s partnership with Coursera announced last month, could be a critical step in closing this gap.

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To learn more about how Coursera, one of the top online training companies in the world, sees the role of online cybersecurity training, I spoke with Dr. Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer at Coursera on her perspective: 

1. First, can you share more about Coursera’s partnership with Infosec?

Earlier this year, Infosec became part of the Coursera partner community, joining over 200 of the world’s leading universities and industry educators. Our partners create courses, specializations, certificates and degree programs for the Coursera platform making it available to millions of learners around the world.

2. How does Coursera determine which topics make it into your library and why?

We are especially interested in timely content that helps learners develop job-specific skills. IT security, for example, is a growing focus area for many organizations with a global need for skilled talent.

We also look for the best partners and subject matter experts to teach it. For example, Infosec and its instructors have years of IT and security experience they can leverage to create high-quality, job-relevant cybersecurity courses. 

3. What value are you hoping to bring to Coursera learners by adding more cybersecurity courses?

Ultimately, we hope Infosec’s new content helps learners succeed professionally. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT security roles are projected to grow at a considerably faster clip than other professions over the coming years.

With Specializations in computer forensics, cyber incident response and Python for cybersecurity, Infosec is equipping learners with the critical skills needed to enter or move up in this growing field. 

4. Why do you think cybersecurity training is something more organizations and individuals should invest time and resources in? Have you seen more interest recently? 

Digital transformation is sweeping across every industry and region. This includes encryption and cybersecurity technologies, which the World Economic Forum projects companies will increasingly adopt by 2025, especially in the digital communication, IT, financial services and government sectors. These new technologies bring new challenges, from device vulnerabilities with hybrid work setups to fully-fledged cyber attacks. 

The turn to digital, along with its challenges, is helping forge millions of job opportunities. Organizations are creating new IT and security roles to better protect themselves and their assets. They are also skilling current employees to keep up with evolving digital trends. Just this last year, we saw more enterprises, governments and higher education institutions turn to online learning to address critical skills gaps — especially in digital areas such as cybersecurity — among their employees, citizens and campus communities.

5. What is an important component of online training and upskilling that tends to be overlooked? 

The learning content is certainly important, but I urge educators to be mindful of how they deliver that content. Is it accessible and inclusive? Does it follow pedagogical best practices for online learning?

Since Coursera has a diverse global learner base, we think about this a lot. For example, learners have varying connectivity and device setups, so the option to learn on a mobile device or download course materials for offline viewing is critical. Learning online also requires a unique pedagogical mindset. We’ve found that learners are more engaged and satisfied with shorter, bite-sized content. Learners do much better with videos that are under 10 minutes, rather than 90-minute lectures. 

6. What excites you most about the future of online cybersecurity training and upskilling?

It’s exciting to see more flexible and stackable learning options. Particularly in dynamic, high-stakes fields such as cybersecurity, employees need to continually learn throughout their working lives to stay professionally competitive.

I think the flexibility and stackability of online learning makes this much more realistic for working adults. While taking a two-year career break to earn a degree may not be feasible for many people, spending two hours each week on a course is. Stackable learning options also enable targeted skilling. That flexibility means learners can quickly develop a basic skill proficiency in a given tool and then, once it’s deemed necessary, commit to a longer learning program to build skill mastery. 

To learn more about Coursera’s partnership with Infosec, click here

FREE role-guided training plans

FREE role-guided training plans

Get 12 cybersecurity training plans — one for each of the most common roles requested by employers.


U.S. has almost 500,000 job openings in cybersecurity, CBS News

Information Security Analysts, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum

Jack Koziol
Jack Koziol

Jack Koziol is president and founder of Infosec, a leading security awareness and anti-phishing training provider. With years of private vulnerability and exploitation development experience, he has trained members of the U.S. intelligence community, military and federal law agencies. His extensive experience also includes delivering security awareness and training for Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, HP and Citibank. Jack is the lead author of The Shellcoder's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes. He also wrote Intrusion Detection with Snort, a best-selling security resource with top reviews from Linux Journal, Slashdot and Information Security Magazine. Jack has appeared in USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, First Business and other media outlets for his expert opinions on information security.