Cheyney University of Pennsylvania announced today that its Workforce Enhancement Network in Cybersecurity program will commence in Spring 2022 and provide students with mentorship and on-the-job training to support professional development and advancement in one of the fastest growing professions.
Through a partnership with Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), PSECU (the state’s largest credit union), AT&T and others, the program will create career pathways leading to a more diverse, capable, and fully trained cybersecurity workforce in the region. Cheyney’s partners will help identify 25 students for the initial cohort and provide the participants with job opportunities for those who successfully complete the program.
“We want to help reduce and ultimately eliminate disparity in representation in this professional sector while addressing the needs of cybersecurity,” said Kizzy Morris, University Provost & Chief Academic Officer. “This is another great example of how our public-private partnerships are providing real-life job skills in some of the most innovative and demanding careers. Our students are building the necessary skillsets required for tomorrow’s jobs.”
According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Information Security Analysts Outlook, cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally. The BLS predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31 percent through 2029, over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4 percent.
“AT&T is looking forward to providing mentorship and other supportive efforts to help get students into the cybersecurity pipeline,” said David Kerr, External Relations for AT&T. “We are hiring thousands of cybersecurity positions across the country, and this is an area where we have a great need for diverse candidates who are looking to become engineers, network technicians and many other professional positions.”
Funding for the program comes from PASSHE’s #Prepared4PA grants that encourage creative partnerships to expand workforce credentialing efforts across the state system. The program grew out of an initiative between PASSHE and employers across the state that examined the competencies leading industries need among the workforce and how higher education can develop high-quality, inclusive credentials to meet demand.
“The communities and regions we serve need creative, workforce-aligned programming like that being produced through the #Prepared4PA program,” said State System Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Cheyney and its partners are proving that we can continue providing students with high-quality, traditional residential experience while simultaneously building new pathways and experiences that are responsive to workforce demands and the changing needs of students.”
The cybersecurity initiative is part of Cheyney’s latest stride by the nation’s oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to attract and train science and technology majors. Cheyney has seen the percentage of students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) increase from 13 percent in 2017-18 to 25 percent entering the fall 2021 semester. To date, eight companies have either set up shop or will establish operations on campus in the coming months—creating numerous paid, hands-on internship opportunities. Cheyney students will work directly with these companies, matching in-class instruction with invaluable real-world experience in their respective industries.
Cheyney has set a goal of having 30 percent of its student body majoring in biosciences and technology within two years.
“The time is now for higher education, a key driver of local economies in the commonwealth, to be innovative in creating short-term diverse, equitable and inclusive credentialing opportunities for individuals in Pennsylvania,” said Cynthia Pritchard, CEO of the State System Foundation.