SAP Chief Trust Office recently hosted a pilot event, the SAP-SANS Inter-University Cybersecurity Range, which was designed to help students gain much desired hands-on cybersecurity experience to complement their collegiate education experience. In this joint effort with SANS, SAP Chief Trust Office deepened its commitment to investing in and diversifying early cyber talent, while fostering a spirit of continuous learning.
Charting a New Course to Talent
Increasingly, organizations are choosing alternative avenues to traditional recruitment to access early cybersecurity talent and bridge the IT skills gap. Sourcing cyber talent is even more challenging when coupling the IT-skills shortage with talent retention challenges, which have been magnified by the pandemic. Both hurdles further constrict the talent pool from which organizations are competing to draw from, which also advances the case for diversity in the cyber field. The reality has made it necessary to enable innovative models to recruit, diversify and upskill talent. SAP’s approach can serve as an example of how to build a future talent pipeline though the use of cyber ranges, with an eye on preparing future defenders and tomorrow’s security leaders.
Why Cyber Ranges?
With cyber ranges, students, professionals, and security enthusiasts alike can showcase the problem-solving skills they already possess to potential employers, as well as build confidence of participants, through the development and practice of new skill sets. The hidden benefit is that the range is not simply reciting theory, but participants can demonstrate and apply computing knowledge, security expertise, and acumen in an interactive and engaging way. Organizations, in turn, benefit from being able to evaluate the practical hands-on skills of potential job candidates, which is something they wouldn’t necessarily be able to get with a traditional interview or known simply from a resume.
SAP-SANS Inter-University Cybersecurity Range | 2022
For Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October 2022, for which the theme was “See Yourself In Cyber,” SAP Chief Trust Office rose to the occasion. By holding the inaugural Inter-University Cybersecurity Range in partnership with the SANS Institute at this particular time of year, the office made a concerted effort to broaden not just SAP but also the cyber field’s reach, into the early talent community, as Elena Kvochko, Chief Trust Officer at SAP, shared with Dark Reading.
The event itself was in the form of a two-day capture-the-flag information security competition open to 200 university students and special guests from across the globe. Students who participated were able to make connections with peers, while building out their cybersecurity skills.
Fostering a culture of continuous learning, transparency, and innovation are key to SAP Chief Trust Office culture, where they build bridges daily across the organization. Based on its positive experience, SAP Chief Trust Office is planning to hold another cybersecurity range in mid-2023 with goals of deeper engagement and interaction opportunities.
A Look at the Numbers
Depending on what study you look at, and depending on the circumstances surrounding the desired roles and outcomes, estimates on the cost of recruitment vary greatly. The cost of recruiting a full-time employee could be anywhere from $4,000 to $35,000, or more.
Even once an organization identifies a great candidate, there’s still an investment that needs to be made in terms of vetting candidates and even upskilling new hires to ensure they have the skills necessary to do the job. When taking soft costs into consideration, some employers estimate that the total cost to hire a new employee could be three to four times the position’s salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. That means filling a position for a $50,000 salary could cost the organization between $150,000 and $200,000.
Furthermore, a ‘bad’ hire can cost over $30,000 in direct re-hiring losses, and that’s not including productivity loss and strain on other professionals to pick up the slack (often noted as up to 10-fold increment to the hard dollar rehire cost). Great companies like SAP are using this philosophy to also look at existing IT staff as potential cyber practitioners and the economics support it. By some estimates, upskilling an existing staff member vs hiring can save $100,000. And according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the vast majority of workers are willing to retrain in any case. Sixty-three percent of employers say skill-based training provides a return on investment, while 62% say it allows them to address any skills gaps.
Break the Mold
Hosting a SANS Cyber Range event is an affordable way to break the mold at a fraction of the cost of traditional hiring, and it quickly helps an organization see the difference between what it says on a resumé vs the reality of a person’s hands-on capability. Students who participate gain world-class experience, exposure to potential future employers, and the opportunity to build their skills.
Learn more about SANS solutions for workforce development and meet with a SANS Training Advisor today.