DOL, Commerce want more cybersecurity apprenticeships

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The U.S. Labor and Commerce departments have launched a four-month campaign to encourage industries and companies to develop registered apprenticeships in cybersecurity.

The 120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint will increase awareness of current successful cybersecurity-related registered apprenticeship programs while recruiting employers and industry associations to expand and promote apprenticeships as a way to provide workers with high-quality, earn-as-you-learn training for good-paying cybersecurity jobs, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said last week at the National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit at the White House. Apprenticeships can be critical to improving access to cybersecurity career paths for underrepresented communities, especially women, people of color, veterans and people with disabilities, he said.

The partnership between the departments of Labor (DOL), Commerce, other federal agencies and the White House Office of the National Cyber Director aims to recruit employers, industry associations, labor unions, educational providers, community-based organizations and others to establish registered apprenticeship programs or to join existing programs to ensure the nation’s economic sectors have greater numbers of qualified cybersecurity workers.

There are nearly 700,000 cybersecurity job vacancies spanning all industries, according to DOL. It adds that there are currently 714 registered apprenticeship programs and 42,260 apprentices in cybersecurity-related occupations.

Building on trucking campaign

The sprint — which will continue until November 14-20, National Apprenticeship Week — is similar to DOL’s recent 90-Day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge to get more trained drivers for the trucking industry. The partnership between the Trucking Alliance and DOL to expand registered apprenticeships included increases in outreach to underrepresented communities, such as veterans, women, people with disabilities and people of color.

As a result of the challenge, 102 new apprenticeship programs were developed and approved, surpassing the goal of 90 employers in 90 days, according to DOL. In addition, 574 new truck driver apprentices were hired as a direct result of the challenge, the department noted.

Part of that campaign and the new cybersecurity push is a commitment from DOL to accelerate the apprenticeship program approval process. In some instances, the department can OK programs in as little as 48 hours.

Backing apprenticeships

DOL has been heavily promoting registered apprenticeships as a key workforce development program. At House and Senate hearings last month, Walsh emphasized the department’s focus on registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships as an important workforce development model to get more Americans into good-paying jobs more quickly and without a required college degree. And he reiterated that apprenticeships can help bring in underrepresented populations, such as people of color and women, into sectors with little diversity.

Walsh also noted at the House hearing that DOL wants to see apprenticeships expand into industries that haven’t traditionally offered apprenticeships, such as IT and retail.

Earlier this month, DOL announced the award of more than $121 million in Apprenticeship Building America grants to strengthen and modernize registered apprenticeship programs and enable workers to find a reliable pathway to the middle class. The American Association of Community Colleges will receive an $8 million grant through the program, and several individual community colleges and state college systems will also receive grants.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.