A program designed to help train newly discharged Israeli combat soldiers in cybersecurity skills was awarded the first IDF Chief of General Staff Innovation Award 2020, according to a press announcement released Tuesday.
The award, a first for the IDF Chief of Staff, was given as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a network of thousands of events, activities and competitions in 180 countries that runs from November 16-22.
The six-month training program, called Cyber4s, targets soldiers who served in meaningful, but non-technological positions in the IDF and trains them for entry-level junior positions in the Israeli cyber industry. It was developed at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak to help newly discharged soldiers – who could not travel due to the pandemic, as many do after their army service – learn new skills and integrate into a lucrative industry that, alongside Israel’s tech sector as a whole, suffers from severe shortage in human capital.
It was developed by Scale-Up Velocity, an affiliate of Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) that partners with tech companies, government agencies, academic and training institutions and philanthropies to build initiatives that help Israel’s tech sector expand its talent pool.
Cyber4s was selected among over a dozen other programs designed to help the IDF in a variety of fields, including a virtual mission training center developed by Elbit Systems that provides a hyper-realistic training experience.
The winners were chosen by a committee of the IDF Chief of General Staff headed by Brigadier General Eran Niv, head of the Innovation and Combat Methods Division, high-ranking officers with extensive experience in innovation, Facebook General Manager Israel Adi Soffer Teeni, and Microsoft National Technology Officer of Microsoft Dr. Tomer Simon.
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According to the announcement, Israel’s National Cyber Directorate and an IDF branch that works with soldiers to prepare them for civilian life also had a hand in developing Cyber4s, as did leading cyber companies that were not named.
The first Cyber4s cohort began in July and is made up of dozens of students selected from hundreds of applicants. The graduates are being trained as full-stack cyber developers at leading high-tech companies in the cyber industry and the armed forces, and take part in online courses, mentoring initiatives, and some occasional face-to-face meetings, according to SNC. Participants also develop practical projects with partner companies and learn R&D training methodologies.
Maty Zwaig, CEO of Scale-Up Velocity by Start-Up Nation Central said Cyber4s presented “a national opportunity to tap into the tremendous potential of discharged soldiers, who did not serve in technology units and provide them with a platform to enter the high-tech industry.”
“This program creates a seamless connection between quality human capital and a focused industry need, using a scalable program that will drive the engine behind the Israeli economy – the high-tech industry and Israeli innovation,” she added.
Students who complete the program will be guided by industry mentors as they search for employment in the field, and as they integrate into their new careers, the organization indicated.