Cybersecurity employers in Colorado Springs have at least 450 openings they are trying to fill, and that number probably will climb in coming months and years in the fast-growing industry, a local economist said Thursday.
That’s before the industry growth that is forecast to be generated by the opening of the National Cybersecurity Center,, said Tatiana Bailey, director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economic Forum. The NCC began limited operation in temporary offices on Nov. 1 but doesn’t expect to move into its permanent home and begin full-scale operations until July.
Bailey made her comments during a panel discussion of industry, academic and nonprofit officials that concluded the Cybersecurity Workforce Development Forum at Catalyst Campus.
“Unemployment in the cybersecurity industry is zero percent, so recruiting and training are critical to our success,” said Valerie Rector, vice president of talent acquisition for Westminster-based cybersecurity provider Coalfire Systems Inc., which will begin offering unlimited paid time off Jan. 1 to help it recruit employees.
The short-term answer to filling those openings probably will be recruiting cybersecurity professionals to work in Colorado Springs, said Andy Merritt, chief defense industry officer for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance. Surveys done for the alliance show that industry professionals have a good impression about Colorado Springs, but most don’t know about the cybersecurity employment opportunities here that are spread across many companies, he said.
Longer term, local officials must build a “talent pipeline” that starts with getting high school students interested in cybersecurity and continues with training and degree programs at Pikes Peak Community College, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and other Springs-area educational institutions, Merritt said.
PPCC has more 500 students in computer network and information technology-related programs, but only 18 in its new cybersecurity program, said Debbie Sagan, the college’s vice president of workforce development. The school hopes to expand those numbers by expanding those programs and working with local high schools to offer four of its cybersecurity courses so that students who have completed those courses will have finished the first semester of the program.
The cybersecurity center was started earlier this year in part to help develop a workforce for the industry through education and training programs it hopes to help build locally and nationwide with its Cyber Research, Education and Training unit.
That unit also will conduct research on cybersecurity threats. –
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