YV-TECH brings Cybersecurity to the Valley – Yakima Herald-Republic


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The world of work has changed greatly in the last few years. COVID-19 has forced companies of all kinds to embrace remote work, schools to offer online learning, and health care to expand telehealth. More organizations than ever now operate off cloud-based platforms. And, many of these are collecting, processing, and storing personal and financial data, making cybersecurity more important than ever.

Simply put, cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems such as hardware, software and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. Even before the pandemic, this was a high demand field. Today, career options have expanded dramatically and wages are high.

  • The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the 2020 median wage at $49.80 per hour or $103,590 per year. ONET OnLine (onetonline.org) — the nation’s primary source of occupational information — says cybersecurity has a “bright outlook.” BLS says the field “is projected to grow 33 percent from 2020-2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

Thanks to Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center (YV-Tech), local students don’t have to go far to explore or prepare for a job in cybersecurity. YV-Tech now offers a hands-on cybersecurity program for high school students. Students perform advanced procedures in intrusion detection, filtering malicious content and disaster recovery. They configure, install and manage data networks, servers, firewalls, remote access and wireless technologies, and learn a variety of advanced languages that can be applied to various web and mobile technology platforms.

“We teach our students how to protect companies and the assets,” said Ken Parrish, YV-Tech instructor. “We offer a broad exposure to digital and information security, while encouraging socially responsible choices and ethical behavior. Our students role-play and train as cybersecurity experts.” YV-Tech coursework connects with the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (NICE Framework or NCWF) which is accepted as an industry standard.

Although this is the program’s first year, YV-Tech students are taking part in the Air Force Association’s “Cyberpatriot” competition, the nation’s largest youth cyber defense competition (https://www.uscyberpatriot.org/). Right now, the team is in the second round of competition and in the top 50% of the nation for their tier!

Career and Technical Education (CTE) isn’t shop class. “We prepare our students for high-demand, high-wage industries using state-of-the-art equipment” said Dennis Matson, YV-Tech director. “YV-Tech can be a college alternative. Students graduate with in-demand hard and soft skills, and hands-on industry experience. Plus, many programs like cybersecurity offer industry certification and college credits. We also have pathways to internship and paid apprenticeships. Our graduates are work-ready.”

Students in good standing from area high schools, home school, private schools and GED students 16 to 20 years old are eligible to attend YV-Tech at no cost. The skills center is on South 18th Street in Yakima and has a satellite campus in Sunnyside. Students attend YV-Tech for half of their day, and their regular high school for the other half of their day.

To find out more, visit https://www.yvtech.com.

Michelle Smith is the Communications and Employer Engagement manager for the South Central Workforce Council.

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