High School Students Can Develop Cybersecurity Skills for Future Career Opportunities

Published on June 3, 2022

Thanks to a partnership of six organizations, people aged 16 to 21 in Kansas can now access a cybersecurity skills through an apprenticeship. Students can apply to the Kansas State Department of Education for such training while finishing high school.

Officially called Information Technology Cybersecurity Apprenticeships, these upskill individuals to identify and deal with potential digital security risks for organizations.

Addressing a major skills shortage

The US is experiencing a severe shortage of qualified workers with cybersecurity skills across various industries, according to the government’s apprenticeship website. In response to this, there was a 600% increase in registered apprentices in cybersecurity occupations to 2,716 in the nine years to 2020.

The high demand is reflected in the attractive annual median pay rate of $102,600 for an information security analyst, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the bureau says the typical entry-level education is a bachelor’s degree, increasingly, organizations and businesses don’t require one.

That’s where the cybersecurity apprenticeship comes in. It gives apprentices on-the-job, structured training that leads to a cybersecurity certification. They’ll earn while learning as an employee of Kansas State Department of Education.

It takes a village to make things happen

In these tumultuous times, it’s ‘taken a village’ for the six partners involved to combine their expertise to create the right program. They include:

  • The Kansas State Department of Education, which has already hired its first cybersecurity apprentice
  • The Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) – Kansas, an intermediary managing the project
  • The Kansas Office of Apprenticeship for the Department of Commerce, which helped create the training program outline for the apprentice
  • The Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation, which brought these partners together to create the program
  • The Urban Institute is providing technical support
  • The US Department of Labor, which gave The Urban Institute a grant to kick off the project.

The cybersecurity apprenticeship program builds on a strong foundation of public service apprenticeships. The government of the nearby state of Kentucky, has offered such apprenticeships since March 2019. You can learn about the program from apprentices here and about the Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) model here.

Where to next?

You can visit the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), which has a cybersecurity apprenticeship program finder to help find such programs throughout the US. The listing includes programs registered with the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, state-level registrations, or those yet to be registered. Some even offer virtual apprenticeships. And the intermediary organization managing the project, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) – Kansas, is collaborating with other businesses and industries in Kansas. If you represent a sector or a business/organization and a cybersecurity apprenticeship program sounds like a good fit, get in touch with them for more information.

Nicholas Wyman is a Grit Daily contributor. He is a workforce development and skills expert, author, speaker, and CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation (IWSI Consulting). Wyman is a leader in developing skills-building, mentorship and apprenticeship programs that close the gap between education and careers around the world. IWSI Consulting works with a range of companies, governments and philanthropic organizations all across the globe, including Siemens, Nissan, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia, the United Kingdom and Australia. Wyman frequently lectures on workplace job innovations, and appears on national broadcast programs.  He is a regular contributor to Forbes and Quartz, and was named LinkedIn’s #1 Education Writer of the Year. His award-winning book, Job U, is a practical guide to finding wealth and success by developing the skills companies actually need. He is actively involved in school to work programs focusing on STEM education. A third-generation writer, Wyman began his own career by learning a trade. He was named Australian Apprentice of the Year in 1988 and went on to captain Australia’s gold medal-winning Culinary Youth Team. He has an MBA and has studied at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

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