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Massachusetts Working to Close Cybersecurity Skills Gap

Massachusetts is investing in entry-level cybersecurity job skills with the award of grants to three institutions through the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Workforce Challenge.

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In 2017, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the creation of the Cybersecurity Growth and Development Center at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Now called the MassCyberCenter, the organization is helping institutions provide students with skills training for entry-level cybersecurity jobs, through a grant program called the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Workforce Challenge.

A total of $385,868 in grants were awarded to three institutions on Sept. 27:

  • Bay Path University's Engaging Student Interns in Cybersecurity Audits with Smaller Supply Chain project will provide full-year internships for 30 undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity students, who will form cybersecurity teams to perform cyber audits at reduced costs for small and medium-sized companies. ($250,000)
  • STEMatch's Securing Leadership in Cybersecurity for the Commonwealth is a collaboration between community colleges, Massachusetts-based cybersecurity and technology providers and end-user businesses to expand the pool of potential cybersecurity candidates to underrepresented groups and displaced workers. ($61,178)
  • MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board's South East Cyber Sec is a public-private partnership between regional workforce boards of southeastern Massachusetts, Bristol Community College, the South Coast Chamber of Commerce and employers to train 20 high school juniors and seniors in a 15-month cybersecurity program. ($74,690)

According to research from the MassCyberCenter, the state had 9,000 open cybersecurity jobs in 2017. The Massachusetts Cybersecurity Workforce Challenge was designed this past summer to address the problem.

The grant program was announced at the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum, where Baker also introduced U.S. Navy Captain Stephanie Helm as the first director of the MassCyberCenter as well as the creation of a Cybersecurity Strategy Council to guide the center's work. The council includes representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Lowell and University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"The Center will play a central role to help convene discussions within state government, and with our industry and academic partners, helping move forward on a collaborative approach to address the cyber threats we face, "Helm said. "I'm excited to lead this effort on behalf of the Commonwealth and to better prepare the state to manage future cyber threats. Cybersecurity is important for the wellbeing of our communities and I look forward to contributing to this team effort."

More information on the MassCyberCenter can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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