The University of West Florida Gets $6M Grant To Lead Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program

It’s important to prepare the potential workforce for a fast-changing economy with new jobs that need skilled workers. Conversations have been had about both trades that require physical labor that is seeing an aging workforce, but there’s also a serious need for skilled workers in technology – cyber-security being one of those areas. Cyber-security is critical for both businesses and government entities, so the $6 million grant awarded to The University of West Florida for the university to lead a Lead Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program initiative is welcomed news.

The program will focus on recruiting, preparing, and transitioning military and first responders into cybersecurity roles. These roles will be within various critical industries including financial services, defense industrial base, and energy sectors. This will do two things:

A) Fill the shortage of cybersecurity workers which is around 500,000 right now

B) Give a transitional opportunity to members of the military & first responders who do so much for our nation.

Here’s who’s involved:

Industry and government entities, and nonprofit partners, as well as the education coalition, will collaborate with the University of West Florida to ensure that these participants are properly prepared for these essential cybersecurity roles.

Here’s what Diane M. Janosek, Commandant, National Security Agency’s National Cryptologic School had to say about this grant award:

The National Security Agency is excited to have the University of West Florida serving as the coalition lead for a new cybersecurity education and workforce development program, said Janosek. “The National Security Agency is excited to have the University of West Florida serve as the coalition lead for a new cybersecurity education and workforce development program.”

Here’s what this program consists of:

This collaborative team will create a specific program to prepare students with everything they need to become true experts in cybersecurity. This will include flexible pathways that will give participants the ability to earn verifiable credentials and certificates.

In addition to core knowledge and skills essential for critical infrastructure sector work roles, the program will integrate cutting-edge topics, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and threat intelligence”.

The education coalition involved in creating and facilitating this program includes A team of nationally designated cybersecurity institutions, including Augusta University, Dakota State University, Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso, Florida International University, University of Houston, Metropolitan State University, San Antonio College, Cyber Florida at the University of South Florida and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity also spoke on the importance of this program’s funding:

UWF is honored to lead this important national initiative to prepare and expand the cybersecurity workforce for our critical infrastructure sectors.”

We will establish a scalable national cybersecurity workforce program that focuses on employability and can be scaled to include additional work roles, sectors, employers, and institutions in future years. Our strong and passionate coalition team aims to solve the cybersecurity workforce crisis once and for all.”

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