TECHNOLOGY

Cyber sleuth training at Davenport University gets $4m scholarship boost

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Cybersecurity is a major priority for businesses, governments and communities alike.

Davenport University has received a five-year US$4 million boost from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to train America’s next generation of cybersecurity experts and fill a growing skills gap.

The funding will go towards the university’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service programme, which provides 28 students with scholarships covering their full tuition fees, any education-related fees as well as living costs.

In return, the graduates will be guaranteed a full-time cybersecurity role at a government entity.

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Current labour market statistics paint a gloomy picture for the world of cybersecurity, a major priority for businesses, governments and communities alike as technologies continue advancing at the current breakneck pace.

A recent report by Cybersecurity Ventures estimated that the skills shortage would leave something like 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021 across the world, up from one million openings last year. 

In the US alone, there remains more than 300,000 jobs unfilled today, a number expected to rise to 1.8 million by 2022 if no solution is found. According to Cyberseek, the cybersecurity workforce supply-demand ratio in the US is 2:3, while the national average for all jobs is 5:8.

This is despite the fact that security breaches have been increasing; last year, the US saw an 11 percent spike in breaches, according to the 2019 Cybercrime Study conducted by Accenture.

“With a large number of open positions and growing security attacks, the need to strengthen and address the cybersecurity talent pipeline is more important than ever,” said Dr. Richard Pappas, Davenport University President, in a press release.

“This grant validates the quality education Davenport University provides and the confidence the federal government has in our ability to deliver the talent needed to address one of our nation’s most pressing issues in cybersecurity.”

CyberCorps Scholarship for Service programme
Source: Davenport University

The scholarship is open to all applicants. In addition to covering a student’s junior or senior year at the university, it also extends coverage to sophomores at GRCC, a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education (CAE2Y).

Also as part of the programme, participants will mentor local high school students looking for career opportunities in cybersecurity. Students will also travel to a national cybersecurity conference and complete a paid summer internship with a federal, state, local or tribal government organisation to further their learning in the cybersecurity field.

“Collaborating with community partners creates more opportunities for our students to gain in-demand skills in growing and evolving fields, including cybersecurity,” said Dr. Bill Pink, GRCC president. 

“We’re proud to be a partner with the National Science Foundation and Davenport University – and also our local high schools to inspire the students of the future.”

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Commenting on the programme, Gov Whitmer’s Advisor on Economic Prosperity Doug Ross said the initiative would also help Michigan achieve its goal of ensuring 60 percent of its high school graduates earn a credential or degree after high school by 2030.

“And when students are supported on a path to earn these credentials, employers gain a highly-skilled talent pool to fill the 545,000 jobs coming open through 2026, and the state grows closer to filling the skills gap – it’s a win-win.”

Since 2011, Davenport University has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – one of only nine schools in Michigan. 

It is also one of only 16 institutions nationally to be recognised as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3).