CYBERSCOOL Defcon, Inc., the Philippines’ first cybersecurity school, was launched on Wednesday to address the cybersecurity talent shortage and skills gap in the country.

CybersCool is the exclusive Philippine distributor and sole training partner of ThriveDX SaaS Ltd., a Tel Aviv-based cyber-education company with a boot camp syllabus developed around military training methodologies and hands-on learning.

ThriveDX’s founder, Roy Zur, is credited for spearheading the design and training of Israeli cyber and intelligence units for 15 years.

“Whatever we are facing in Israel is, in many cases, the same as you are facing in the Philippines,” said Rami Efrati, a resigned brigadier general and a founding member and former head of the civilian sector of the Prime Minister’s Office’s Israel National Cyber Bureau. “Everything starts with education. Cyber-culture starts with awareness.”

At the launch, Mr. Efrati said that everyone in Israel is cyber-aware — from the barbers to the 10-year-olds. The nation of 8.9 million is home to more than 300 active cybersecurity companies and accounts for 15% of global cybersecurity investments.

He told event participants that Israel’s ecosystem has five pillars: military; education; human capital; industry; and national laboratories.

“You have excellent people here in the Philippines,” Mr. Efrati said. “You just have to identify and encourage them, and make sure the right people go to the right places.”

Many of Israel’s young and talented workforce choose to work for the government instead of big tech companies like Amazon, which offer hefty salaries, but “we’re not stupid,” said Mr. Efrati. “We know they wouldn’t [stay in the government] more than five years. That’s fine because they remain in Israel and come up with new startups.”

The Israeli government supports startups it identifies as having disruptive technologies by matching 50% of its investments in research and development. The country is said to have the highest number of unicorns per capita.

“We know 95% of these startups fail; this is life,” Mr. Efrati said. “But we also know 5% can be new unicorns… that brings us taxes and makes the young happy with stock options.”

He told the audience, “encourage young people to say, ‘I want to do this in Mindanao. I want to do it here because my family is here, my tradition is here.’ If the government understands this, then people will stay.”

Tatoo Amsili, CybersCool co-founder, said, “The idea is to build a new generation of cyber people, and to start to… provide service to the Philippines, and also outside the Philippines, but from here.”

The Asia Pacific has the biggest regional workplace gap of 1.42 million persons.

“The problem of stopping cyber threats is daunting enough,” said Renato S. Puno, retired Philippine chief justice and chairman of the board of CybersCool. “Exacerbating the problem is the reported shortage of cybersecurity experts.”

This should not discourage people from embracing the digital revolution, given its potential to elevate the progress of man to unprecedented heights, Mr. Puno added. “Mankind is not a stranger to challenges driven by his creativeness.” — Patricia B. Mirasol