The National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), a leading nonprofit organization promoting cybersecurity education and awareness, has launched a new career pathways program with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to build a bridge between industry and this untapped talent pool.
The HBCU Career Program aims to equip students with top skills to navigate the search process for job positions in security, privacy, and risk, helping build a pipeline of Black professionals to fill the cyber workforce gap.
“For the cybersecurity industry to ever reach its full potential, the industry needs to find ways of bringing diverse talent into its pipeline,” Lisa Plaggemier, executive director at the NCA, said in a statement. “This program will tackle this long-standing issue head-on by building bridges between the industry and the untapped talent pools [existing] at many HBCUs today.”
Across the nation, there is a critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals, with nearly 715,000 unfilled roles in the U.S. alone as of April 2022. In addition, minority candidates make up only a fraction of the cybersecurity workforce, with only nine percent identifying as Black and four percent identifying as Hispanic.
NCA said that building bonds with underrepresented communities is not just pivotal to closing the workforce gap, but also in building a more inclusive cybersecurity community.
The HBCU Career Program partners with schools and industry partners to collaborate on several initiatives, from networking to interview prep. Some academic entities participating in this program include Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Texas-based HBCUs such as St Philip’s College, Prairie View A&M University, and Texas Southern University.
Some industry leaders involved in this career program include Dell Technologies, Proofpoint, Quanta Services, Trellix. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has also gotten involved in this endeavor.
The HBCU Career Program will create and manage mentoring programs between industry partners, schools, and students. These programs will include training for the mentors and implementing tools and strategies to administer enrollment, user profile matching, scheduling 1:1 sessions, and more.
In addition, NCA will conduct a series of events during both the fall and spring semesters at HBCUs featuring guest speakers and panel discussions with professionals and recruiters.
“Building a more diverse cybersecurity workforce is key to bringing new, innovative thinking into the industry and ultimately defending against cyber threats,” said Jason Rosselot, vice president of cybersecurity and business unit security officer at Dell Technologies. “With the launch of the HBCU Career Program, we’re taking a meaningful step toward developing the diverse workforce of tomorrow while driving more excitement about careers in cybersecurity.”