Driving an effective cybersecurity apprentice program (Part 2)

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California students are participating in a unique cybersecurity apprenticeship program.Earlier this year in February, I wrote about my experience developing an apprenticeship program to provide cybersecurity training to college students in California. With the program proceeding through its early stages, it’s time to report on our progress so far.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the grant provided by the California Community Chancellor’s Office that provided seed funding for this effort is a key component to program success. The Chancellor’s Office aptly named this initiative as the “New Innovative Grant Program.” The initiative’s focus has been on creating “new and innovative apprenticeship opportunities in priority and emerging industry sectors or areas in which apprenticeship training does not currently exist.”

Since writing the earlier article relating to Part 1, we have made surprising progress relating to program goals. The first cohort of 25 students started on June 5, with an initial 5-day course that introduced them to program activities and what would be expected of them throughout the program. Last week they started Coastline Community College’s eight-week course that relates to the exam objectives associated with CompTIA’s Network+ certification.

As disclosed in Part 1, my initial focus has been reaching out to “potential mentors” who are already employed as cybersecurity professionals, holding key industry certifications, with the goal of pairing them with students participating in the program. In an ideal world, that pairing would result in the opening of an opportunity to have the student work alongside their mentor as an employee of the same company. Key to selling this idea is identifying how each apprentice benefits his or her mentor.

With an initial focus on potential mentors who hold CISSP certification from (ISC)², I researched whether those with this certification who struggle to amass its required Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits could use mentoring activities to meet their 40-hours-per-year quota. The clear answer from (ISC)² was yes. That answer is detailed in an article I wrote and posted on LinkedIn.

Beginning in early July, I’ll start the pairing process. That process included identifying potential mentors who have a worksite that is within a reasonable commute range of each student. No one should have to spend time on southern California’s freeways commuting an unreasonable distance to work. Much of what I’ll be doing is to get to know both students and potential mentors and see if pairing is a possibility.

Once we uncover a successful match, my efforts with the assistance of mentors will be to reach out to their employers and see whether we can create a worksite experience for students. Recognizing potential resistance, this is where I will be utilizing data and available funding from the grant for monetary employer incentives to sell the employer on the idea of participating. Admittedly there will be challenges, but this is where innovative ideas come into play.

I promise to report on further progress in Part 3.

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Steve Linthicum

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Linthicum has been teaching information technology courses at Sierra College since 1999. He holds a variety of industry certifications that include CISSP, CASP, VCP-DCV, and MCSE: Private Cloud. See his LinkedIn profile for additional certifications. He also serves in a California Community College Chancellor’s Office role as the Deputy Sector Navigator for the Information and Communications Technology / Digital Media Sector. Steve can be reached at slinthicum@sierracollege.edu.

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