• Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

 (INTERVIEW) Fadl Al Tarzi Speaks on How Nexford University Bridges the Gap in Global Cybersecurity Sector

ByJoan Aimuengheuwa

Mar 27, 2023

Cybercriminals are committed to daunting cybersecurity measures put forward to curb their excesses, as experts in the latter leverage innovations, experts in the former do the same.

Despite industry-wide efforts to bridge the gap, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be a 350% increase in the number of vacant cybersecurity roles by 2025, giving 3.5 million openings. The shortage rate of cybersecurity skills is alarming, compared to cybercriminal skills which seem to be in excess these days.

In a study by Information Systems Security Association International (ISSA), it was found that about 95% of cyber professionals believe the skill gap has not improved over the past few years, and 44% believe it has gotten worse.

For these reasons and more, Nexford University, an American online University enabling students to earn globally recognised, affordable and accredited degree programs in a range of high-demand tech skills, has positioned itself to take up the challenge of reducing the existing gap in the sector.

Delving deeper into the effort, Fadl Al Tarzi, Founder and CEO of Nexford University, tells us how the AI-driven, next-generation University platform is set to enable African learners to take hold of the education and career opportunities amidst rapidly growing global demand for cybersecurity skills.

Fadl explains that talent shortage and mismatch in skill distribution are the reasons why the cybersecurity sector still has a large void. 

Owing to Fadl’s findings that show 63% of employers report unfilled cybersecurity roles, plus the above reports, this cannot be denied. 

The reason for this insecurity is well known, and the Covid 19 pandemic fueled this digital acceleration. “In a few years, there will be about 1.5 million job vacancies in cybersecurity. The digital transformation accelerated by Covid has resulted in a huge level of exposure for organisations.”

The statistics around cybercrime and the need for increased security make the cybersecurity role unique and important among other jobs.

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Nexford University trains its students to become skill-ready, leveraging opportunities in the space as they delve into the problem-solving world. This is in the face of 15% of organisations having severe understaffing in their cybersecurity teams.

Cost of Cybercrime

The cost of cybercrime, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, would cost the world $8 trillion by 2023. This prompted the next question: 

TE: If the cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $8 trillion in 2023, why do you think some organisations are still reluctant to even think about cybersecurity measures?

Fadl: In this case, adoption is slow, but it’s high time organisations realise the magnitude of the cybersecurity threat. These organisations tend to be slow to adopt, innovate or adapt. It’s similar to health insurance if you think about it. Adoption of health insurance across Africa is super low as there are supply shortages. Organisations tend not to invest in areas unless they see potential in those areas. 

Same way organisations will invest in cybersecurity if they see some amount of interest or if there are compliance or regulatory requirements where the organisations have some sort of cybersecurity system in place, this could help boost cybersecurity adoption. Cybersecurity insurance could help in this aspect.

TE: Considering that the global workforce needs to almost double to meet demand for cybersecurity expertise, how is Nexford University working to fill this gap and preparing its students to not just acquire the skill and dump it, but have a problem-solving mindset focusing on the sector hands-on?

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Fadl: I think the way to do it is to show them what the opportunities are. Affirmatively, most students go through an education program as a means to an end, they use it as a pathway to a specific career though they are not likely to pursue that career, just learning the skill to have additional skills. Unlike a college degree, a bootcamp or facility programme like the cybersecurity programme isn’t just a credential that you are going to hang on your wall, it’s a lifelong skill you can use across many industries. It’s a skill that never expires or diminishes in value over time.

So, we try to encourage our learners going into this programme to be serious about pursuing a career in this particular area, and in many cases, people are looking to reskill so there are lots of jobs in this aspect, like IT support jobs for example, increased automation as a result of AI.

TE: Pertaining the Huge opportunity Nexford offers to African learners with cybersecurity skills to access well-paid global tech careers & remote employment opportunities, how would this work? How can they access this? Is it just by getting a certificate from your school? Or you have to attain a certain requirement?

Fadl: For us in the cybersecurity boot camp, you have to complete the programme successfully in order to qualify for jobs. The reality is that you won’t be able to complete the programme if you do not meet a minimum standard. It’s sort of equivalent to a minimum range in an MBA programme or a degree programme. You really have to put in a lot of effort to complete the programme as well as a project in order to receive the qualification. 

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You have access to a career coach and once you start getting involved and get all your credits right, you have access to online jobs in this field.

There are industry-recognised certifications which we do not offer by ourselves, but we prepare our students to practice and get these qualifications. So if the students are studying the programme from scratch, they will be prepared to get these certifications.

TE: Can an individual without prior knowledge of cybersecurity get into this programme?

Fadl: Yes, the programme is structured for people with no prior cybersecurity knowledge. They will be able to start from scratch and scale.

Even though no prior certificate in cybersecurity is needed, they’d need a foundation of education, when they started learning how to learn. They don’t need to be college graduates.

TE: When Nexford University connects students to remote jobs across companies in different countries, does it have a cut in their earnings or is there something else you gain? What degrees does the school offer?

Fadl: We don’t take any share of it, you keep 100% of your earnings.

Nexford offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with many specialisations, a range of individual courses, bootcamps and certificates, but doesn’t offer the PhD.

The cybersecurity bootcamp has been evaluated, for credits and has been accredited by the American Council of Education. 

To complete the bootcamp you have to offer a number of courses. You can offer a cybersecurity programme which is transferred into the degree programme as well.



Joan Aimuengheuwa

Joan thrives at helping individuals and businesses scale via storytelling...

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