A new center for teaching cyber security skills is opening early next year in southwestern Virginia. It’s aim is to train unemployed or underemployed workers for this growing industry. Its organizers say it’s also geared toward keeping those jobs in the area.
One of the nice bonuses of working in cyber security is, you can do the job from anywhere. But the educators behind the new Cisco Networking & Cyber Security Academy hope you’ll stick around the region after you get your certification. They’re taking applications now for a variety of cyber security courses, some of which will come with apprenticeships from local companies and lead ultimately to jobs. Deri Draper, is a continuing education fellow at Old Dominion University who’s coordinating the program. She says its ideal for people in southwestern Virginia, looking to learn new skills and transition out of waning industries, without having to leave home and family.
“The people that are in this region, their work ethic, their integrity, their loyalty, all of that, that’s who they are and not only would you have a high skilled work force, but you have a work force that has high integrity, that has ethics that has all of these things that make a very valuable employee.”
They’re also looking for more instructors. Draper says, “There are a number of very high, credentialed individuals in this region that have stepped up and said they would like to be instructors and they also have a pulse on different organizations in the area where they can direct students to and network as well.”
Draper says several companies in the region have ecxpressed the fact that they’re in need of credentialed Cyber Security workers. Companies considering locating in southwest Virginia have inquired about their availability in the region.
The Cisco Networking and Cyber Security Academy was initially funded with a $190,000 Tobacco Commission grant. Matching support came from the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and Old Dominion University. It’s part of the fulfillment of a goal that’s been on Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe's agenda ever since he took office in 2014.
Classes begin in January at the Southwestern Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, with ongoing enrollment after that. The program is specially geared toward flexibility for students of all ages and skill levels, who may want to continue to work at their current jobs while they gain new cyber security skills.
For Information on the Cisco Networking and Cyber Security Academy, click here