The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and several major tech companies have partnered with the nonprofit National Cybersecurity Alliance to create a new cybersecurity curriculum at several historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Students from Prairie View A&M, Southern University, St. Philip’s College, Texas Southern University and many more will have the chance to participate in the HBCU Career Program.
Dell Technologies, Proofpoint, Quanta Services, and Trellix have already committed to helping the program equip students with the skills needed to navigate the job search process in security, privacy, and risk, while helping to create a pipeline of black professionals to fill the cyber labor shortage.
“For decades, we’ve relied on the same recruiting tactics to fill the cybersecurity talent gap,” said Michael Alicea, chief human resources officer at Trellix. “Our lack of diversity is holding us back. The HBCU Career Program will open new avenues for those seeking meaningful careers and introduce new and diverse perspectives to the industry.
In April, there were approximately 715,000 cybersecurity vacancies in the United States, and black applicants make up just 9% of the workforce.
Adrian Jackson, director of communications at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas, said the school has made several changes in recent years to accommodate the city’s ever-expanding cyber industry – which now includes public and private companies, and medical and military services. and government centers.
On August 18, the school opened a new cyber facility to support the expansion of its cybersecurity degree and certificate programs. The school is also in the process of gaining approval for a Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Cybersecurity Engineering.
“Combating a national shortage of cybersecurity professionals is, for us, a local concern,” Jackson said, noting that the school is the only higher education institution in the country to be designated as both an HBCU and Hispanic. -Serving Institute (HSI). ). “The tools provided to our students through this partnership with the National Cybersecurity Alliance are essential for building networks and raising awareness of career opportunities in cyber. This is an opportunity for students to examine the path to their future and get a realistic view of what it looks like for them. This promotes student success.
Businesses, schools, and the National Cybersecurity Alliance will work together on several initiatives, including networking opportunities, interview preparation, and more.
The National Cybersecurity Alliance will manage the mentorship programs, which will include trainings, tool implementations, one-on-one sessions and more.
Several in-person events will take place during the fall and spring semesters at participating HBCUs that will feature guest speakers, panel discussions, and recruiters. Students will receive detailed guidance on career paths specific to cybersecurity, what professional cybersecurity jobs will look like, and specific advice from recent HBCU graduates working in the cybersecurity field.
“For the cybersecurity industry to reach its full potential, the industry must find ways to integrate diverse talent into its pipeline,” said Lisa Plaggemier, executive director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance. “This program will tackle this long-standing problem head-on by building bridges between the industry and the untapped talent pools that exist in many HBCUs today.”
The non-profit organization has worked for years to build stronger ties between government, industry and academia around cybersecurity. The organization helped create Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October and other resources to help protect businesses from attack.
Sharyl Givens, director of human resources at Proofpoint, said the diversity of its workforce has been the driving force behind much of its success and said the new program “stands as a key initiative to help our industry to make key connections with the next generation of cyber talent.
“The HBCU community is full of talented students with an interest in technology and cybersecurity and we look forward to launching the program this fall,” she said.
Dell Technologies Vice President of Cybersecurity Jason Rosselot echoed the remarks, noting that building a more diverse cybersecurity workforce is key to bringing new and innovative thinking. in the industry and ultimately defend against cyber threats.
“With the launch of the HBCU Career Program, we are taking a significant step towards developing the diverse workforce of tomorrow while generating more excitement for careers in cybersecurity,” he said.