ALEXANDRIA, VA – If you lost your job because of COVID, and are eager to learn, you should consider the new Cyber Skills Virginia Workforce program, where you can get trained for free.
Virginia Cyber Skills Academies (VCSA) provides reskilling and upskilling in cybersecurity to individuals in Northern Virginia whose livelihood was impacted by COVID-19. This project is funded in part by GO VIRGINIA, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that strengthens and diversifies Virginia’s economy and fosters the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries.
The Virginia Economic Commission announced that Virginia had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.1% as of March 26, 2021. Many industries such as retail, hospitality, and travel were hit especially hard with slower recovery rates than other sectors. However, the demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to see an increase. Q2 2020 saw an 11% year-over-year increase in cybersecurity positions, despite COVID-19 (Dice, Q2 Tech Report). The shift to remote work because of COVID-19 has compounded the need for trained cybersecurity professionals as cyberattacks have increased.
“Cybersecurity professionals are thriving right now, and we’re extremely proud to support this program. All of us at WSC have fulfilling, financially rewarding, and interesting careers because we’re a part of this profession, so we look forward to bringing on more people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds,” said Mari Galloway, Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu.
The program is composed of two academies: The Reskilling Academy is for individuals who have no background in cybersecurity and trains those individuals for key industry certifications that qualify them for mission critical jobs. The Upskilling Academy assists those with some IT background or security-specific experience to learn the additional skills needed to find more advanced roles, exposing them to even more job opportunities. Graduates of this program will not only fill a need in the local economy but also increase their long-term earning potential.
“We regularly hear from employers that they can’t find enough qualified people to meet their needs for technical cybersecurity professionals. SANS is pleased to offer training and supports WSC and their efforts to increase and diversify the cybersecurity workforce. We believe this program represents an exceptional opportunity, through hands-on learning, for individuals interested in cybersecurity to acquire the knowledge and skills required for an in-demand career in Information Security,” said Maureen Shrewsbury, Cyber Workforce Development Programs Manager at the SANS Institute. “It’s 100% scholarship-based training and accredited certification in an in-demand and meaningful profession that you can accomplish in months, not years.”
This state-sponsored program will provide technical skills training, industry recognized certifications, mentorship, and soft skills to individuals living in Virginia Region 7 (Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William). Selected students will go through all training virtually and as part of a cohort with like-minded peers. Applicants will submit resumes, complete an assessment, interview, and submit application documents, to verify their eligibility for this program.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to work with Virginia Cyber Skills Academies to help support our citizens in returning to work with new or updated skills in cybersecurity,” said Susan Baker, Managing Director, GO Virginia Region 7. “We also want to thank our partners who are launching this program and look forward to the results.”
Local employers will benefit from VCSA bringing much needed new technical talent into the cybersecurity workforce. Several local leading organizations are partnering with the program and include, Leidos, Northern Virginia Technology Council, Alexandria and Arlington Regional Workforce Council, Alexandria Economic Development, Loudoun County Economic Development, Recorded Future, Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business, Fairfax County Economic Development, Prince William County Economic Development, Fairfax County Economic Development, US Cyber Range, Dark Cubed, NinjaJobs, Secure Anchor, FlexProfessionals, CrossCountry Consulting, and many other contributing partners.
“This program is designed to change lives. Some of the best cyber professionals come from diverse backgrounds, because it’s about having a tenacity to solve problems and contribute to a team. Many clients of our cybersecurity-focused marketing agency are looking for talent because they’re experiencing growth. Individuals of all ages with zero cyber skills will walk away with the credentials to help them secure a fruitful career,” said Jessica Gulick, CEO & Founder, KatzcyTM.
In collaboration with state and local leaders, three locally based organizations have come together as founding partners to manage the program, support the students, and coordinate with employers.
- The Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC) serves thousands of women, men, and girls across the globe by bringing awareness to, and advancing careers in, cybersecurity. WSC provides platforms for networking, skills building, mentorship, and a jobs board to aid in increasing historically underrepresented groups’ participation in the Cybersecurity Workforce.
- The SANS Institute (SANS) is the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world. Each year more than 50,000 cybersecurity professionals are trained by renowned SANS instructors through 65+ courses. The SANS Institute is GIAC’s preferred affiliate for cybersecurity certification preparation.
- Katzcy is a social impact company committed to helping our tech and cybersecurity community grow through impactful marketing strategies, community workforce initiatives, and skill-oriented tech competitions. Through our PlayCyber™ line of business, Katzcy is helping build a stronger and more diverse community of cybersecurity professionals by delivering an exciting cyber games experience.
VCSA will begin accepting applications on April 20, 2021, and interested participants should visit www.vacyberskills.com to sign up for alerts on when to submit their materials. VCSA will host ongoing recruiting webinars as well as a Virtual Career Workshop on May 20, 2021.
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