07 N2003P36001CIn recent years, cybersecurity as a profession has found itself at a crossroads. Since its origins in the 1980s, practitioners have drifted into computer security, information security or cybersecurity from other disciplines, mainly information technology and engineering, as well as entering through more academic or formal routes. However, with the increase in cybersecurity threats and attacks, the demand for professionals can no longer be met by practitioners drifting in from other professions or by limiting the choice to those lucky enough to have been able to pursue master’s degrees.

Just last month, Cumberland County Workforce Development commemorated graduates of a Cybersecurity Pre-Apprenticeship program. The program is for young adults ages 14 through 25. It was held at the Cumberland County N.C. Works Career Center last fall. Raleigh-based ISG Cybersecurity Talent Development teamed up with Cumberland County Workforce Development to present the program. Eighteen students graduated in the inaugural class.

ISG launched the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program in 2016 to help entry-level apprentices advance from mid- to senior-level skills in two years. The apprenticeship program helps meet industry demand for cybersecurity professionals and helps young people establish a career path in the field. Graduates will enter the next phase at Fayetteville Technical Community College to obtain certifications for continued education in cybersecurity. FTCC’s Systems Security and Analysis program prepares graduates for employment in the technology sector as cybersecurity analysts, cybersecurity managers, support technicians, system administrators and engineers.
In 2015, Fayetteville Technical Community College President Dr. Larry Keen and Methodist University President Dr. Ben Hancock signed an agreement that allows a seamless transfer process for students interested in continuing cyber and information security studies. FTCC students who receive their Associate in Applied Science degrees in Information Systems Security are fully qualified to enter Methodist’s Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity program, which offers a Bachelor of Science degree.
“We’re very excited for all of the positive things that will come from this agreement,” Hancock said. “For some students, this will be the best fit — to start out their careers at FTCC and then come to Methodist.”

FTCC students must have received a C or better grade in those classes.

“This is the first IT preapprentice program in North Carolina. Once these young adults complete this program, which will take them less than two years, they will be certified in cybersecurity with the ability to earn a mini-mum of $45,000 annually,” said Cumberland County Workforce Development Director Nedra Rodriguez.

“The cybersecurity course was very informative and helped me understand more about computers,” said Ian McLaurin, a Cape Fear High School graduate who is one of the cybersecurity graduates.

The next cybersecurity pre-apprentice program at Fayetteville’s N.C. Works Career Center at 414 Ray Ave. starts in April.

The Cumberland County N.C. Works Career assists veterans and job seekers with the resources they need to succeed. For more information about the career center, go to co.cumberland.nc.us/career-center.

The Workforce Development Board is appointed and governed by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

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