Cyber security

ACT launches CYNAPSE, a new cyber workforce program to address AI bias in hiring

- April 11, 2023 2 MIN READ
CYNAPSE partners with ACT chief minster Andrew Barr. Photo: Supplied
It’s not news that artificial intelligence (AI) can be biased, and since AI-powered tools are used for almost everything now, including recruiting, there is unconscious bias in hiring processes. 

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has launched a new cyber workforce program to address the issue.

The Cyber National Assessment Program for Skills and Employment (CYNAPSE) aims to increase the cyber workforce and diversity by at least 100 people by 2024. It hopes to encourage women, neurodiverse people, First Nations Australians, transitioning veterans, and people in remote areas to consider a career in the space. 

Tech company FifthDomain, which provides cyber workforce management and insights, is leading the program.

FifthDomain received a $3 million grant for the project as part of the Department of Industry and Science’s Round two of the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund.

CYNAPSE implements standardised testing into cyber roles, trains candidates for working in Security Operations Centres, and gives employers and recruiters insights to improve workforce participation. 

The platform will make it easier for people to get a job by using objective, standardised tests instead of just talking in an interview. It will also remove unconscious bias by not using biographic data like name, gender, or location.

The Program includes 45 online assessment modules within an interactive platform. 

The modules have realistic case-based cyber threat scenarios, as seen in security operations centres. 


FifthDomain CEO Matt Wilcox & ACT Minister Andrew Barr. Photo: Supplied

CYNAPSE will allow up to 10,000 concurrent users and will be free for potential candidates. In remote communities, CYNAPSE can be made available via local education facilities. 

FifthDomain will develop the program with its 13 project partners over the next year, ready to pilot in a year’s time. 

Barr said cybersecurity is one of ACT’s and Australia’s fastest-growing sectors, and ensuring it has the workforce it needs will be a key challenge in the future.

“It’s both encouraging, and no surprise, that innovative and inclusive solutions like CYNAPSE have been developed here in Canberra. Initiatives such as these will be essential to build the capable, skilled, and diverse workforce the sector needs to continue its strong growth,” he said. 

FifthDomain CEO Matt Wilcox has seen first-hand how hard it is to hire cyber staff. They want to help employers, students, and those interested in a cyber career understand what the job is like by providing realistic scenarios. 

“There is a whole pool of people with untapped potential we could be hiring in cyber, and they currently experience barriers. CYNAPSE lessens that issue, providing the employer with their data sets of ability first,” he said. 

“Unconscious bias is, unfortunately, a factor to consider in cyber. Women only make up around 17% of the industry, and we want to dramatically increase that. 

FifthDomain is seeking cyber industry professionals, recruiters, IT and cyber education providers, and minority advocacy groups to participate in CYNAPSE. 

Details available here.

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