- Businesses in South Texas are teaming up with three school districts and a community college to develop pathways for students into the local cybersecurity workforce. The effort is being funded by a $700,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency, EdScoop reports.
- The College and Career Regional Cybersecurity Pathway program will use resources from South Texas College and the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Hidalgo and Valey View independent school districts, as well as private companies, to give students an opportunity to explore the cybersecurity field. The industry has 300,000 unfilled jobs nationally, and the problem is severe in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas.
- The program will expose students to job shadowing and internships and career and technical student organizations, and give them the opportunity to earn college credit and certifications while in high school.
Salaries for cybersecurity jobs are soaring. For example, a chief information security officer salary at one firm that paid $650,000 in 2012 now pays $2.5 million. It’s all about supply and demand: Too few cybersecurity experts and too many hackers.
Programming to prepare future cybersecurity professionals offers benefits for school districts and students alike. Aside from equipping high-schoolers with skills that can help them get ahead of the curve on postsecondary education or landing a job after graduation, districts are also building potential pipelines for their own IT staff as schools become increasingly popular hacker targets. And they can also take advantage of those skills before students graduate by offering real-world experience assisting their IT departments.
These programs can also benefit at-risk students in particular by introducing them to high-demand fields with good salaries ahead of graduation. That interest and engagement could even result in these students considering higher ed a possibility where they previously hadn't.
Districts don’t have to go it alone financially. The U.S. Department of Education provides $1.3 billion per year for CTE courses at elementary, secondary and adult levels. The Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship program, for instance, recently provided $3 million to six states to help CTE students earn post-secondary education and connect them to STEM careers.