Cybersecurity experts announce at UNLV summit efforts to bolster workforce
Cybersecurity experts on Wednesday announced a host of initiatives during a summit held at UNLV to strengthen the state and national cybersecurity industry’s growing workforce, with a focus on young people entering the industry.
Some of the initiatives announced include:
- UNLV has received federal funding to bring on 50 students as paid interns with its Free Cyber Clinic, which helps businesses with cybersecurity needs and trains students for cybersecurity careers.
- DruvStar, a cyber defense company based in Las Vegas, will provide five paid internships to UNLV students each year.
- Hewlett Packard is expanding its Future of Work Academy and will include Nevada community colleges. The initiative helps students with career readiness.
- Fortinet, a California-based cybersecurity company, is launching a free K-12 cybersecurity curriculum that will be available to all school districts nationwide.
- Western Governors University, which has nearly 500 Nevada-based students in its cybersecurity program, will launch a new platform for students within the next nine months to digitally showcase their cybersecurity skills.
The event came one week after the White House unveiled a plan to revamp the national cybersecurity workforce. The plan focuses on reducing barriers to entering the cybersecurity industry by shifting to a skills-based workforce and increasing the diversity of the sector.
“Women and minority community members are particularly underrepresented in cyber jobs,” said Kemba Walden, the top cybersecurity official in the White House, at Wednesday’s event. “The untapped skills and potential of these groups act like an anchor holding back the economy.”
Panelists said Wednesday that the White House cybersecurity strategy is a sound way to revamp the industry, which is shifting to the point where skills may be valued more than a person’s educational background. As a result, they said it’s important to engage with groups — ranging from teachers and universities to community organizations — to teach cyber skills and get young people excited about cybersecurity.
“Reaching out to young people is really important,” said Yoohwan Kim, director of the UNLV clinic that will provide internships to students.
Rob Rashotte, the vice president of Fortinet, said most people in his company entered the cybersecurity industry by accident. They didn’t enter college expecting to join the industry — and work must be done to reach people early in their lives, he said.
There must also be more assistance for students interested in cybersecurity, he said.
“I don't think they know where to start,” Rashotte said. “And I think there's a lot of work we need to do there.”