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According to research last year from the data research company Optimal, enrollment in accelerated workforce training programs in tech-related careers has risen as students have increasingly looked for cost-effective alternatives to traditional degree programs in colleges and universities. Seeing the writing on the wall, some of those institutions have partnered with tech companies offering such programs, seeking to attract students with “bootcamps” that focus on skills such as coding and cybersecurity. Among those benefitting from recent workforce education trends is global cyber education company Cybint, which announced more than a dozen new partnerships last month with schools looking to offer cybersecurity bootcamps to their students.
Cybint founder and CEO Roy Zur said he started the company in 2014 to tackle a growing talent shortage now threatening networks across both the public and private sectors, where employers have struggled to find qualified applicants for IT security positions. He said the need to train students for IT security was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which digitized the workplace across industries to facilitate remote work.
“The paradox is that as society becomes more sophisticated and everything becomes ‘smart,’ the level of security that is needed and the threats on systems are becoming stronger,” he said. “We need people to operate these technologies, to review these technologies, to develop these technologies and to monitor them.”
Cybint, a software-as-a-service company, was acquired last year by the global cybersecurity company HackerU, which then rebranded itself as ThriveDX. Zur said the merger led to rebranding Cybint’s training program as “Impact” and expanding it to more U.S. higher ed institutions. He said the program works with about 10,000 students in 40 colleges and universities, with a focus on the U.S. market.
“The reason we partner with universities and colleges is that we don’t want to replace them — we just want to allow them to offer more suitable options to some learners and students that prefer not to take the full degree path, or who took the full degree path and still didn’t find the career they want,” he said.
According to the company, the program offers in-person and online training courses that teach students core cybersecurity concepts and skills needed for entry-level jobs in the field, modeled after training programs used by the Israeli military to prepare its cybersecurity personnel. The training features interactive cyber incident simulations that teach students how to respond to real-life scenarios such as ransomware attacks, which have increased over the course of the pandemic.
“If you compare it to traditional degree paths, it is much more accelerated. In three to six months, you can actually get a job in the field,” Zur said of the training. “It’s very hands-on, and it’s very focused on skills … It’s less theoretical and more practical.”
Last year, the training program expanded into community colleges including Loras College in Iowa, College of Eastern Idaho, Northeast Community College in Nebraska, Lincoln Land Community College in Illinois, South Arkansas Community College, Manchester Community College in Connecticut, Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri, Central Texas College and others, according to a news release.
“Northeast Community College is strongly committed to training qualified professionals capable of facing off with cyber adversaries from day one on the job,” said Dr. Cyndi Hanson, dean of workforce development at Northeast Community College, in a public statement. “[The training program’s] mission is strongly aligned with ours in this respect, as they focus on rigorous hands-on training and real-life scenarios. We are excited to be kicking off with this partnership.”
Zur expects the recent growth of Cybint’s bootcamps to be spurred by the Build Back Better Act promoted by President Joe Biden. If passed, he noted, the bill would include a $550 million increase in Pell Grants for 5 million college and university students, $400 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and $100 million devoted to cybersecurity awareness training and workforce development, which could bode well for programs like Cybint’s and for low-income students hoping to gain IT skills.
“We see this growing really fast,” he said. “Assuming this will happen, it will allow the schools to offer more students to take these programs in a fully subsidized way.
“With technology becoming more advanced, I don’t see the demand for people in cybersecurity going down in the near future,” he continued. “It’s just going to go up, and we have a limited number of people actually qualified to do this work.”
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.
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