The Rochester Institute of Technology has recently received a challenge grant to help people underrepresented in the computer science industry jumpstart new careers in cybersecurity. The grant will provide up to $180,000 towards the expansion and development of a Cyber-Protection Apprenticeship Program that will focus on training participants for positions within the cybersecurity workforce. RIT hopes to choose from a diverse group of applicants ranging from many different backgrounds including those who are deaf and hard of hearing. The project will act as an inclusive effort to create a new more inclusive pipeline of skilled cybersecurity workers that will increase opportunity and add to their talent pool.
“Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do—our project will examine and describe why it’s also the smart thing to do,” said Justin Pelletier, an RIT professor of practice in computing security and principal investigator of the project. “Hackers are by definition diverse thinkers. To outsmart them, we need to bring more cognitive diversity into the cybersecurity workforce.” As director of the Cyber Range and Training Center in RIT’s Global Cybersecurity Institute (GCI), Pelletier helps lead the Cybersecurity Bootcamp program. It’s a 15-week immersive training course that prepares professionals from all backgrounds (even those with no prior coding or IT experience) for critical entry-level cybersecurity roles that come with an average salary of more than $50,000 a year. The bootcamp is offered remotely and has already run five cohorts, with graduates finding new careers.”
Several participants who successfully complete the program will be selected to participate in what will be recognized as the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program which will span along a six-month period where participants will act as full-time employees and gain work experience through on-the-job training. SAFE Lab already currently offers programs for undergraduate students with paid opportunities and due to the grant, the apprenticeship program will be a great addition to that team. A major piece of this project is helping to provide opportunities and positions to individuals who experience hearing disabilities creating a more inclusive work environment for all.