Delaware turns to high schoolers to bolster cybersecurity workforce

A new scholarship platform is designed to take advantage of a booming industry and boost the state's cybersecurity talent pool.

In a two-pronged approach to cultivate tech talent and create jobs, Delaware has launched a $650,000 cybersecurity training and scholarship program for high school and college students.

Officials hope to use the initiative to capitalize on the surge of job growth for cybersecurity professionals by offering students 16 years or older a new education platform called CyberStart that teaches IT security and provides students opportunities to compete for state scholarships. This includes $500,000 for cybersecurity education at the college level and $150,000 for other types of cybersecurity education. The CyberStart platform is provided through a partnership with the SANS Institute, a national research and education organization, and is designed with interactive games to test aptitudes and push exploration. Some of the scholarship funding is provided by SANS, and will pit Delaware students against students in Virginia, Michigan, Rhode Island, Iowa, Nevada and Hawaii.

“Delaware’s future is an innovation economy where technology takes center stage, and our state needs a pipeline of talented cybersecurity professionals,” said Gov. John Carney in a release

Globally, security firm Symantec has projected there will be more than 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2019. An analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled and that demand is expected to jump 53 percent for such positions through 2018. Some analysts predict the cybersecurity market will jump from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020.


Delaware is not alone in its bid to boost its economy through cybersecurity workforce investment. States like Virginia have launched educational initiatives to train veterans in cybersecurity and provide college scholarships in return for state service, and at the federal level the Commerce Department’s Skills for Business initiative last year set aside more than $1 million for universities and nonprofits to develop a pipeline for cybersecurity education courses.

“I applaud the SANS Institute for working to ensure the cyber workforce of tomorrow is available to protect our information and systems,” said Delaware CIO James Collins in a statement. “The CyberStart program is an excellent and fun opportunity for students who think they may be interested in cybersecurity to determine if they have the passion and aptitude to pursue it as a career.”

The initiative is launched alongside a host of workforce efforts led by Collins, including a push for greater cultural diversity and the inclusion of more women in technology.

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