In the midst of a global shortage in cybersecurity and other high-skill tech positions, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has quietly built one of the most impressive Cybersecurity Apprenticeship programs in the country. Known as the Colorado Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program – or C-CAP for short – the program offers a compelling opportunity to kickstart a career in cybersecurity through a combination of On-the-Job training within a partnered industry employer and Related Coursework through the university. Upon completion, participants are equipped with the skills and training they need to continue a career in cybersecurity.
Using a collection of college courses that align with cybersecurity industry standards as well as boot camps and on-the-job training, C-CAP fully prepares its students for one of the fastest-growing career paths in the country.
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We recently sat down with their Director of Internal Operations, Bridget Guerrero, to discuss her thoughts on Apprenticeship, her goals for the program, and what the future looks like for Apprenticeship at the University of Colorado.
According to Guerrero, the primary goal of C-CAP is to create a new wave of 21st-century apprenticeships in the technology industry that provide participants with the tools they need to successfully kickstart new careers within in-demand sectors. In addition to helping participants in their community, the program also benefits the companies within their respective industries as they reap the rewards of a steady pipeline of skilled workers for hard-to-fill positions, allowing employers to successfully recruit, train, and retain skilled cybersecurity professionals.
According to The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, the need for cybersecurity professionals has reached an all-time high. UCCS found that there are more than 504,316 cybersecurity positions open in the U.S. with a 36.5 percent growth rate through 2022 and a zero percent unemployment rate, an apprenticeship in cybersecurity is an employable and desirable career path.
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As of today, C-CAP operates two Registered Apprenticeship programs. The first is their Cybersecurity Analyst Apprenticeship Program where participants are asked to take three courses as well as associated boot camps to achieve industry-recognized certifications. Once each participant has completed this process, they will be awarded a UCCS Undergraduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Management.
The second is their Penetration & Vulnerability Tester Apprenticeship Program. In this track, apprentices will be required to enroll in three courses and associated boot camps that will aid them in their journey towards industry-recognized certifications. Upon completion, students will be awarded a Certificate of Completion from the university.
Each apprentice in the program will be assigned a cybersecurity industry mentor to guide their journey through the apprenticeship provided by UCCS’s College of Business’ Relationships, Opportunity, Acumen, and Readiness program. Participating employers have agreed to provide salary increases to students in the program as they reach certain checkpoints. Courses can be completed online to support the on-the-job training at the company’s location.
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After completing the required 2000 hours of On-the-Job learning, apprentices will then be recognized with a Certificate of Completion of the C-CAP Cybersecurity Analyst Program. Upon graduation from C-CAP’s program, participants will earn 12 credits toward a B.S. in Business with an emphasis in Cybersecurity Management or Information Systems.
After discussing the overall foundation of the UCCS C-CAP program, we asked Guerrero what kind of goals and aspirations she has for this program in the future. She responded by saying that their main goal is to ensure this program is sustainable beyond the term of their grant. To kickstart the program, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded them a $6 million grant in an effort to expand Registered Apprenticeships into Cybersecurity-related fields.
When asked what kind of tools and resources they are taking advantage of to help them reach these goals, Guerrero underscored the importance of having a solid foundation for tracking participant information, program information, and compliance data. They have lofty goals for the program – and with it – a significant compliance burden for Apprenticeship & Federal Grant Reporting, so having ApprentiScope is vital to their ability to scale effectively.
“ApprentiScope plays a huge role in reporting and keeping us up to date on participants and how we can service them. Also, the ability to track a participant from entry to exit gives us more thorough context to the overall journey of our apprentices and is hugely valuable”
As we wrapped up our interview with Bridget we asked her one last question. That question was “If you could give any advice to an incoming apprentice what would that be?”
She responded with,
“Really do the research prior to the program so they can really identify what their goals are because a goal without a plan is a dream. “And so if they want to pursue cybersecurity they really have to understand what it takes to succeed in the world of cybersecurity”
Bridget Guerrero, Director of Internal Operations for UCCS C-CAP Program