As jobless claims continue to decline nationwide, we may be lulled into a false sense of security — that is, with full employment, our collective financial future can only be bright.
At Tarrant County College, we see a flaw in that thinking. Why? Today there are still some 6.7 million individuals without jobs, and another 6.2 million jobs that continue to go unfilled. Add to this dynamic the fact that many of the most in-demand and socially critical jobs remaining unfilled require specialized training, and we are left with a not-so-simple question: how do we create clear paths to get people educated and employed in these vital positions?
And whose responsibility is it to create such paths: high schools, higher education institutions, individual corporations or workforce development organizations? The answer, quite simply, is “all of the above” and, to be most effective, “all of the above” working collaboratively to fill the skills gap while anticipating future workforce needs.
One field that is experiencing the most serious workforce shortage is information security — the people we rely upon to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or crashing entire computer networks.
Forbes reports that cyber security is the fastest-growing profession with the greatest skills gap; globally, a shortage of two million cyber security professionals is predicted by 2019. In the U.S., 40,000 information security posts go unfilled each year.
Currently, one in three businesses is victimized by a cyberattack each year. Industries most vulnerable to cyberattacks are those that hit each of us close to home: healthcare, financial services, government agencies, retail businesses and transportation. Not only do these attacks threaten our financial health… they can threaten our personal safety, too.
If these important information security positions remain vacant, we will only be more vulnerable to cyber threats in the future.
This grim reality, viewed differently, represents an opportunity for collaboration that can transform the way we get people on the best path to stable, meaningful and lucrative careers, while simultaneously strengthening critical components of our social and economic infrastructure. JPMorgan Chase Foundation recognizes that partnering with higher education institutions to develop curriculum and programs that prepare students for high-skill, high-demand jobs can yield better results for both students and employers than the traditional “post the job and they will come” approach.
As such, the financial services giant made a national commitment to workforce readiness that translates into grants awarded by its foundation in individual markets to address identified, critical labor needs.
Tarrant County College — through the TCC Foundation — was fortunate to apply for, and receive, JPMorgan Chase Foundation’s $250,000 grant for this region that will fund the expansion of our information security program… with a twist.
This will be our inaugural program in the implementation of a Guided Pathways approach, in which the college will design and implement structured academic experiences that guide each student from his/her point of entry to postsecondary credentials and careers with value in the workforce.
With input from local industry and the Texas Workforce Commission, TCC identified a need for cybersecurity training as a high demand, high skill and high wage occupation, so the funding we receive from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation grant will support the development and implementation of our Cybersecurity training program to meet crucial workforce needs, while also allowing us to launch the program using the Guided Pathways methodology. Once it has been developed and launched, TCC’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity can be completed in just two years. Graduates can expect to earn a higher median salary in Fort Worth than the national average.
More importantly, the future looks bright for students pursuing this career path, with forecasts calling for 28 percent job growth in cybersecurity over the next 10 years.
TCC is preparing tens of thousands of students for their next step in higher education and training our future workforce. While Toyota may have chosen Plano for their North American Headquarters, they chose TCC as their workforce training partner.
We are proud to be the partner of choice for companies like JPMorgan Chase and Toyota on crucial workforce training efforts, and we look forward to sharing more about upcoming partnerships that will shape the future of Tarrant County’s evolving workforce.
Eugene Giovannini, Ed.D., is the Chancellor of the Tarrant County College District.