Information Communication Technologies & Digital Media Sector Team

The team at Coastline College has made the most of its grant from the Chancellor’s Office for a cybersecurity apprenticeship program. More than 40 students have completed apprenticeships, and the program is ready to become financially self-sufficient.

Apprenticeships offer an innovative approach to meeting the need for skilled cybersecurity workers across California. Students can take classes and earn professional certifications while obtaining valuable on-the-job experience.

The apprentice concept is not new, but had to be adapted to fit the 21st-century workforce. Steve Linthicum, ICT-DM Deputy Sector Navigator in Orange County, worked with Dr. Nancy Jones, Coastline’s Dean of Instruction for Career and Technical Education to design a process that worked for students, faculty, and employers.

“We need to have mentors on the job who are overseeing the work of the apprentices,” Jones said. “They used to be called journeymen in other fields, but we don’t have them in cybersecurity so we needed to figure out how to find them.”

Jones and Linthicum found those mentors through professional organizations and other groups who were looking to fulfill service requirements. They’ve also formed partnerships with local and regional government organizations and other employers in the area.

The program is so successful that employers are now approaching Jones about becoming part of it, rather than the other way around. Jones credits Linthicum’s vision and leadership for the program’s success.

“He has so many great ideas about bringing things together and figuring out ways to implement them,” she said. “We’re always bouncing ideas around and it’s almost like we’re a mini-think tank.”

The apprenticeship program has set up its own funding sources to continue well into the future. The focus now is figuring out how to replicate it throughout California.

“A lot of students go through our programs and earn industry certifications, but most companies don’t want to hire you without job experience,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that this is replicable because there’s such a need.”