WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. (KMOX) – Techies are leaving the military for more lucrative opportunities in the private sector, which will leave 2 million cybersecurity jobs unfulfilled by 2019. To help battle the military brain drain, Webster University is expanding its cybersecurity degree programs.
University president Beth Stroble says despite the numerous job openings, there is interest the field. “We now have 450 [students] enrolled in this [cybersecurity] program, that’s with it open just two years. So the growth from when we first launched is 145 percent.”
The cybersecurity masters program began two years ago at Webster’s Colorado Springs campus, but it’s now offered in St. Louis and five other cities. Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are offered as well. Part of the classwork takes place in a private laboratory that challenges students with real-world issues such as viruses, malware and hacks.
But why are so many cybersecurity positions empty? Webster University Assistant Professor of Cyber Security Jim Curtis attributes it to the tough reality students face once on the job. “I think the challenge we have is that [students] come in, they get trained, they get their certifications and then life hits them in the face,” he says.
Earlier this week, Sen. Claire McCaskill suggested steering more students to part-time National Guard service or creating a new way to serve on the cyber defense front. Curtis agrees, saying leaders in the field could establish “a cyber corps” to encourage recruitment.
In the future, Webster University expects to partner with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to help connect students with professionals in the cybersecurity field. “We do a lot of research partnerships around what are the newest ways to detect threats and offset those threats,” Stroble says. “Industry partnerships are key.”
Stroble adds that the cybersecurity field is vast and encompasses much more than national security. “Elections, health providers’ ability to keep our identities and our circumstances private. All of these are day-to-day concerns and they’re policy concerns at the national and international level. So we’re excited to be part of providing a solution,” she says.
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