A Vision for Cybersecurity Career Pathways and Economic Prosperity

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A woman using a computer

CyberWarrior Academy was born in 2018 to create high-wage career opportunities for historically underrepresented communities, including persons of color, women, and veterans. Today, its mission remains the same to bridge the technology skills and diversity gaps by providing the cybersecurity training, employment opportunities, and transitional support necessary for people from underserved communities to gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities for career opportunities and growth in one of America’s highest-paid tech sectors. To accomplish this social enterprise mission, CyberWarrior delivers an immersive 28-week intensive bootcamp-style training to under-represented individuals in Massachusetts and across the country. Our multi-pronged strategy integrates several stand-alone elements, which in combination provide high levels of competence, creating alignment between the student experience and employer expectations.

This design was rewarded in the fall of 2021 with a grant award from the Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that looks to Cyberwarrior and our partners to provide cybersecurity skills training and apprenticeships or full-time employment to our target audience across the Northeast and Southeast.

We know firsthand that CISA granted CyberWarrior this project to help fix two of the biggest challenges facing the cybersecurity industry: the lack of a sufficiently skilled workforce and the lack of diversity within the existing workforce. To magnify this challenge, the cybersecurity industry has not escaped the newfound realities of the Great Resignation we currently are living through.  There are millions of people looking for a career change and a better work/life balance, while at the same time many of the new career opportunities are demanding greater education in science and  technology. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that in 2020 there were 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs.  Beyond the shortage of the candidates who are applying for these positions, fewer than one in four are qualified, according to the MIT Technology Review. And the Covid pandemic and its remote workforce, coupled with the impacts of the Great Resignation, have only magnified this stark reality.

Further, the challenge of a lack of diversity in the cybersecurity field is widespread and well documented. The percentage of people of color in tech is less than 10% of all employees, and anecdotal figures suggest under 2% within cybersecurity. Simply, the growing field of cybersecurity is leaving women, veterans, and people of color behind.

This lack of diversity is a pervasive problem at nearly all tech companies—big and small. As an example, in 2014, Google released its employment diversity numbers, showing 83% of its employees were men, with 60% of its entire tech workforce being White and another 34% being Asian. Google’s 2020 diversity report shows numbers that have barely moved over the past 6 years, with only 32% of its employees being women, 3.7% Black, and 5.9% Latinx. Evidently, the tech industry has not been able to crack the necessary code to diversify its workforce.

Reversing women’s and the Black and Latinx populations’ broad exclusion from cybersecurity occupations that promise significant upward mobility is critical to long-term efforts to address racial inequality. In the context of a growing affluence gap in the United States, increasing the opportunities of people of color in one of America’s highest-paying, fastest-growing sectors would be a transformative step towards widening the circle of inclusive growth. Because of the need to provide critical cybersecurity skills to keep us all safe, workforce training is a critical element of the necessary industry talent acquisition formula.

CyberWarrior’s Unique Role: Advancing Equity and Growth in Cybersecurity

CyberWarrior Academy has long recognized the need for an inclusive and accessible work-based cybersecurity training program for underserved communities, including Women, Veterans, and People of Color, and is poised to tackle this challenge head-on. In an effort to meet the societal challenge and peril of critical industries that lack a skilled cybersecurity workforce, we are simultaneously working to find a solution to socio-economic inequities found in high-wage, sustainable jobs that lack a diverse workforce and preparing our students to effectively fill the skills gap in the cybersecurity knowledge and talent pipeline.

The award winning CyberWarrior formula is a live, 800+ hour online cybersecurity workforce training program that combines vocational lab-driven exercises—delivered by ethical hackers and industry engineers—with a competency-based model. CyberWarrior provides hands-on technical training and the interpersonal workplace tools necessary to launch high-growth careers in cybersecurity. CyberWarrior is a critical resource in connecting diverse communities to opportunities in a booming local tech economy and building a sustainable pipeline for communities that have been marginalized for decades. But it is also a critical resource for filling the cybersecurity skills gap for companies across Massachusetts and the entire country.

CyberWarrior Academy’s Program Structure & The CISA Grant

If you want to learn more about our program and our work to fill the cybersecurity skills gap either in your organization and others with women, persons of color and veterans, please contact us at diversity@cyerwarrior.com. We can’t wait to work with you to create opportunity through jobs and apprenticeships.

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