Future of Work: Creating Pathways to Cybersecurity Jobs

Monday, October 21, 2019 3:08 pm EDT

By:

David Etzwiler, CEO, Siemens Foundation Kurt John, Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Siemens USA

When we ask young people what they want to do when they grow up, we often hear, “I want to help people.” Or, “I want to keep people safe.” It’s no surprise then that youth consistently rank becoming a firefighter or police officer among their dream jobs.

We hope after meeting with students earlier today at MxD – a lab in Chicago featuring digital manufacturing technology – that a few more young people will view cybersecurity in a similar vein.

As digital technology brings things online, we see a growing need for cybersecurity professionals committed to protecting factories and our critical infrastructure from harm. In fact, cybersecurity positions are now growing three times faster than other internet technology (IT) positions and 12 times faster compared to all U.S. jobs. By 2021 it’s estimated that there will be roughly 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide.

In particular, U.S. manufacturers need qualified workers to guard against cyberattacks as workers integrate software and new automation systems, explore the power of data and create applications using artificial intelligence. Yet two-thirds of respondents in a 2017 Global Information Security Workforce study said they lack the cybersecurity professionals they need.

This is why the Siemens Foundation is investing in the creation of career pathways for students to reach STEM opportunities, including cybersecurity in manufacturing careers. The Siemens Foundation and Siemens businesses are collaborating to pinpoint skills challenges and solutions in key STEM industries through a new initiative called SPARKS, which stands for STEM Partnerships to Advance Real-World Knowledge and Skills.

Furthermore, the Siemens Foundation has provided a $1.25 million grant to MxD USA for the creation of a comprehensive workforce development program for cybersecurity in manufacturing. The grant will fund the development and implementation of a high-skilled cybersecurity-for-manufacturing initiative within MxD’s workforce strategy, MxD Learn, part of the SPARKS initiative.

MxD Learn’s comprehensive strategy will define roles and training pathways specific to cybersecurity in manufacturing; develop curriculum and training partnerships, including for high school students; and provide hands-on training through apprenticeships. As employers look to build a more diverse, highly skilled cybersecurity workforce, MxD Learn is designed to help young people prepare for purpose-driven, well-paying careers, regardless of their background or zip code.

A portion of the Siemens Foundation grant to MxD will support a digital manufacturing laboratory at Waukegan High School, a Title 1 school north of Chicago, where MxD has previously supported curriculum development. In addition, MxD Learn will replicate the program at a second high school in the Chicago region, creating a template for further expansion.

These programs represent the first steps toward scaling the high-school curriculum program in more locations over the next several years. We hope they also broaden the list of “dream jobs” as more young people learn how to use digital tools to help create a more secure world.

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