Nearly everything is becoming digital these days, which has proven to be a positive game changer. The other side of the coin, however, is the increasing cyber threat, from which companies and public institutions need to protect themselves. The relevance of the cyber security sector is growing, and it comes as no surprise that there are many job vacancies. Beatrice de Mahieu, CEO of BeCode, and Ludovic Patho, BeCode’s first cyber security coach, explain how their social impact school can provide a solution.
“Educational opportunities for people who are less fortunate, but highly motivated”
Cyber security has quickly become a necessity for organizations all over the world. Schools and universities are adapting their offerings to address this need, and there are numerous initiatives for facilitating employee reskilling or upskilling. BeCode is a social impact school with four campuses in Belgium; it provides technical training on web development, artificial intelligence and cyber security, for people who are vulnerable on the job market. “Our school is bridging the digital divide, and delivering a solution to the talent scarcity at the same time,” CEO Béatrice de Mahieu explains.
BeCode offers a step up from unemployment, to fill the need for tech talent. “As a social impact school, we can be compared with the VDAB, Actiris or FOREM. Younger people who are disconnected from work or studies, people who have been unemployed for a longer period, refugees, etc., can enroll in a course,” Beatrice continues. “Anyone who is on unemployment benefits can join, as long as they are motivated and willing to learn.”
Ludovic Patho is in his sixth year of work at BeCode. Starting out as a coach in web development, he now conducts trainings and creates curricula for the cyber security courses. “I noticed during my web development coaching sessions that there is a lack of knowledge about security in general, and cyber security in particular. Conversely, there are many job opportunities in that niche. That is why I created the cyber security bootcamp,” Ludovic says.
After months of brainstorming and content gathering, the first bootcamp was organized in Charleroi in 2022. “The first edition had 28 participants. The bootcamp takes place on weekdays from 9 to 5 PM, and lasts a total of seven months. After four months spent learning the basics, the students get to choose the field of cyber security in which they want to operate: attack or defence. Over the next three months, our career coach fully prepares them for their internship at an enterprise. They learn how to write a resume, apply for a job, etc.,” Ludovic continues.
This year, 55 participants have already signed up in Brussels, Ghent and Charleroi; the bootcamp will also be held in Liège starting this autumn. Béatrice de Mahieu: “All of last year’s participants quickly found a company for their internship, and were hired afterwards. A lot of companies are recruiting cyber security profiles on a regular basis. We feared the pool of candidates would become too big, but the demand is extremely high. All of this year’s 55 students, who are eager to start, will be able to find a job in no time.”
These figures confirm the demand for these profiles on the market, although diversity remains an issue. “The low representation of women in the cyber security bootcamp – only 12% so far – concerns us. We are trying to inspire and show girls that there are a lot of jobs in cyber, not only technical ones.”
As one of the structural partners for cyber security at BeCode, Microsoft recommended that Béatrice get in contact with the Cyber Security Coalition. “When we started our cyber security bootcamps, the Coalition opened doors for us, introducing us to their partners, and putting us in contact with companies recruiting cyber security talent. Our final aim is that companies will come to BeCode to find cyber talents, and support us with various kinds of financing or partnerships,” Béatrice says.
To achieve its goals, BeCode needs to attract participants and raise funds. “BeCode’s offering is completely free for the participants. Our financing comes partly from subsidies, partly from donations by companies or individuals; we also rely on the companies who support us through contracting for vacancies. In future, we hope to raise enough money to increase our offerings and train more students to reinforce the work field.”
Cyber Security Awards
BeCode has submitted two candidates for the Cyber Security Awards. Béatrice nominated Ludovic, while Ludovic nominated one of the participants from the first bootcamp. “Maria Silva is a young, female professional who was recruited by Orange Cyber Defense immediately after the bootcamp,” Ludovic explains. “The awards are a good way to shine a light on the different kinds of profiles needed in cyber security,” Béatrice de Mahieu concludes.