The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity received a $1.5 million contract from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, to expand the CyberSkills2Work program, an intensive cybersecurity training program designed to help individuals launch or advance cybersecurity careers. The training will focus on critical infrastructure security and industrial control systems security.
“We are excited about our new partnership with the University of West Florida,” said Michael Howell, associate chief, Office of the Chief People Officer, CISA. “Cyber-attacks targeting critical infrastructure, such as government facilities, energy plants, water treatment plants and public health facilities create significant challenges to the services Americans rely on every hour of every day. Our partnership with UWF on the CyberSkills2Work program will ensure qualified cybersecurity professionals who are entering the cyber workforce will increase the security, manage the risks and ensure the resilience of critical infrastructure sectors.”
The training will be provided online at no cost to approximately 360 participants, including technical training and industry certifications to prepare 160 participants for work roles such as cyber defense analyst, cyber defense infrastructure support specialist, system administrator and industrial control systems threat analyst. Tabletop exercises for 200 participants will focus on cybersecurity for critical infrastructure sectors including elections, energy, maritime, water and wastewater management. The training will be open to those interested in launching or advancing cybersecurity careers with an emphasis on federal, state and local government personnel, transitioning military, veterans, women and underrepresented minorities.
“The CyberSkills2Work program affords the participants hands-on experiences, best-practices and realistic scenarios that enhance learning on critical infrastructure protection,” said Dr. Guillermo Francia III, director, research and innovation, UWF Center for Cybersecurity. “Further, the program provides the participants the opportunity to earn various industry-recognized digital certifications and badges that are instrumental toward establishing their professional credentials.”
As cyber threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure continue to increase, there is a growing need for more qualified cybersecurity professionals across all critical infrastructure sectors. The cybersecurity workforce shortage tops 572,000 nationwide according to CyberSeek, a comprehensive cybersecurity workforce analytics website.
Nigel Dean completed the eight-month, five-course training in August that prepares participants for entry-level system administrator work roles. He said the program prepared him to transition to a career in that role by providing the foundational knowledge and essential skills and connecting him with professionals in the industry.
“The CyberSkills2Work program has given me the confidence to continue to apply for new roles and further my learning on my own through self-guided, hands-on projects,” Dean said. “The professors and staff at UWF are passionate, love what they do and are super helpful.”
The UWF Center for Cybersecurity is a national leader in cybersecurity workforce development and offers several programs and scholarships for cybersecurity training, upskilling and reskilling. It is the lead institution for the National Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program, which has trained more than 1,700 transitioning military, first responders and veterans for cybersecurity jobs over the past three years and serves as a scalable solution to address the national cybersecurity workforce gap.
For more information about the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, visit uwf.edu/cyber. For more information about the CyberSkills2Work program, visit cyberskills2work.org. For more information about CISA, visit cisa.gov.