The challenges of meeting the acute workforce needs in Cybersecurity necessitates thinking out of the box, with a focus on developing scalable programs for statewide use across 114 Community Colleges. In his role as an ICT Deputy Sector Navigator for Orange County, Steve Linthicum is always searching for potential partnering opportunities that result in the promotion of a career, providing potential students with “hands-on” experience and learning that will pique their interest in considering continuing a learning pathway into cybersecurity as a profession.
Steve recently initiated and drove development of a CompTIA IT Fundamentals certification effort directed at middle school, high school, and community college students. Steve recognized the obstacles to having students obtain industry recognized certifications such as textbook costs, exam costs, inconvenience in finding a testing center and scheduling a testing time, and fears associated with taking an exam.
By leveraging his existing relationships with CompTIA, ITProTV, Practice Labs, and California Cyberhub, Steve created a partnership to eliminate the barriers. The resulting project provides students with free learning content and exam vouchers that are provided at no cost (or in some circumstances a nominal cost). CompTIA is piloting a process for the IT Fundamentals certification that allows students to take the exam in the classroom rather than the standard method that necessitates going to a private testing center. The comfort of being able to take the exam with fellow students in their classroom serves to lower levels of apprehension and increase success rate.
A major source of project funding is the Strong Workforce Initiative. To date the project activities have resulted in:
- All 1,000 vouchers have been allocated with an anticipated use before December 1, 2018.
- 427 vouchers have been utilized to date, with a 95.0% certification pass rate.
- The passing rate for middle school and high school students is 93.8%.
“The key to this and other successful projects I’ve initiated is the unrestricted opportunity to ‘invent’ proposals that have the potential of achieving student success and seek funding from sources like the Strong Workforce Initiative and partners,” said Linthicum. “This is the role and the opportunity of the Deputy Sector Navigator!”