Tongan Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program launches with support from New Zealand

CERT Tonga launches a region-first program to bolster cyber skills in the Pacific.

16 March 2022

CERT Tonga is launching a Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program (CWDP) to help build practical skills and understanding of cybersecurity issues among experienced and aspiring practitioners.

CERT Tonga has developed the program to help ease the lack of skilled workers in cybersecurity, something that is a global concern and that impacts smaller economies even harder.

CERT NZ director Rob Pope said he was pleased to see this initiative going ahead in the Pacific.

“These sorts of programs, which add experience to the wider cybersecurity workforce, can only be good for all of our Pacific partners as we look to strengthen our collective defences against cyber attacks.”

“CERT Tonga has always been one of our strongest partners and a leader in the region” added Pope, “we’re proud to collaborate with them on this new course of action”.

CEO of the Ministry of MEIDECC, Mr. Paula Ma’u added that he is “very grateful to CERT-NZ and the Government of New Zealand for this timely assistance.”

“The project has multiple benefits for Tonga not only is it an opportunity for individuals in the workforce to be exposed to CERT Tonga's operations, but it also provides the team with additional capacity, especially while Tonga is slowly recovering from the recent volcanic eruptions, tsunami and the Covid-19 community transmission. This program is yet another product of the good relationship forged over the years between CERT Tonga and CERT NZ which has included work-attachment opportunities and sharing of materials and resources”.

CERT NZ sees the CWDP as a crucial part of its Pacific Partnership Programme and has committed to investing over NZ$150,000 in the CWDP.

The CWDP will make available two full-time positions within CERT Tonga. One role will target experienced operational staff, with the other open to recent graduates or others looking for an entry-level position. The roles are both short-term contracts, or secondments, designed to maximise information and experience sharing as well as on-the-job training.

In doing this CERT Tonga can strengthen the local cybersecurity workforce, while also gaining further help in the delivery of its services.

The key outcomes of the program are to

  • increase the depth and breadth of the CERT Tonga partnership network;
  • strengthen and upskill the Tongan cybersecurity community of practice; and
  • provide CERT Tonga with further in-house resource.

 The CWDP builds on close partnership between CERT Tonga and CERT NZ and aligns with previous agreements made between Tonga and New Zealand relating to cybersecurity, including the 2018 Framework for Operational Collaboration on Cyber Security between the Government of Tonga and CERT NZ.

As part of its support for the CWDP, CERT NZ will connect participants in the program with New Zealand-based subject matter experts and initiate a regular mentorship exchange. The hope is a successful roll out of CWDP will see the creation of similar initiatives in other Pacific nations.