July 2, 2019

U.S. secretary of labor visits Purdue, presents $12 million award in cybersecurity field

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta on Tuesday (July 2) announced a $12 million award to Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute to develop a program to help fill a growing need for cybersecurity professionals.

Acosta visited Purdue’s campus to make the announcement. He toured Maurice G. Knoy Hall of Technology and met with Polytechnic administrators and students as well as state officials and business partners.

acosta-students Purdue students, from left, Kelsey Billups, Sienna Bates and Joseph Balazs talk cybersecurity with U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta during his tour of the cyberforensics lab Tuesday morning (July 2) in Knoy Hall of Technology. (Purdue University/Rebecca Wilcox) Download image

The number of jobs in the cybersecurity field is expected to grow by 37 percent between 2018 and 2022, with experts expecting there to be 1.5 to 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021, according to a 2017 Cybersecurity Ventures report. Companies face a huge hurdle in filling those positions because reports indicate that a large segment of the workforce lacks the necessary skills.

“Purdue Polytechnic Institute and representatives from Raytheon, TriStar, FastPort, and Rofori are expanding apprenticeships in Indiana with this grant investment,” Acosta said. “Expanding opportunities will help American workers learn in-demand job skills to fill the 7.4 million open jobs in the United States. Apprenticeships and workforce development help to create pathways to family-sustaining careers.”  

Preparing more qualified people to fill those positions both now and in the future is the focus of the developing Purdue Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program (P-CAP).

The apprenticeship program will be designed to create a steady pipeline of cybersecurity professionals for employers, while also offering a channel for participants to find high-paying jobs in the field.

Geanie Umberger, clinical professor and executive director of P-CAP, said there is a crisis-level need for cybersecurity experts, amid exponential growth in demand.

“Both industry and government have a critical need for cybersecurity experts, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute has an outstanding cybersecurity program,” she said. “For this grant, we built on that program to propose a multifaceted apprenticeship pipeline that unites industry, government and education in a coordinated effort to develop a highly qualified cybersecurity workforce.”

The program will provide a pathway into occupations ranging from network and cloud operations support to areas including cyberforensics, biometrics and cryptocurrency.

Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute will develop the training programs, engaging with key industry leaders such as ManTech and NSWC Crane, along with partnerships with the state of Indiana.

“Alongside our public- and private-sector partners, we will work to address employers’ cybersecurity workforce shortages and create individual pathways to successful technology careers – all while developing a scalable model that could be replicated in other industries,” said Gary Bertoline, dean of Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

Purdue is the only university in Indiana to receive the federal funding as part of this grant opportunity.

The program will have a national reach once it partners with Purdue University Global, an accredited online university with the first and only cybersecurity apprenticeship approved by the Department of Labor.

Carla C. Johnson, formerly an apprenticeship program co-coordinator in Purdue’s College of Education, is partnering in the research and evaluation of the program as the new executive director of the Friday Institute at North Carolina State University.

Apprentices will acquire valuable industry-recognized cybersecurity certifications and obtain college credit for the work they complete. P-CAP aims to serve at least 5,000 individuals in the first four years of the program, once initiated.

The federal funding is part of $183.8 million in grants awarded to only 23 private-public apprenticeship partnerships in key industry sectors, including information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care.

These grants are part of the Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies program and will support the training of more than 85,000 apprentices in new or expanded apprenticeship programs and increase apprenticeship opportunities.

Writer: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu

Sources: Geanie Umberger, 765-496-3723, gumberger@purdue.edu

Gary Bertoline, 765-494-2552, bertoline@purdue.edu

Note to journalists: Video b-roll is available at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fTnkIKV-Yu4etONOfAYGqJ7FBbZvPWpr


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