Community Colleges Can Be Hotbeds for Cybersecurity Education

By at 26 September, 2022, 8:23 pm

by Karen Kerrigan – 

Cybersecurity is critically important to small business growth and success. In fact, given the risks and costs that many small business owners possibly face if hit with a cyber attack – including the potential loss of the business if financial and/or reputational costs become too great – many have taken protective action by embedding security, technology and training across their operations.

As promoters of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, SBE Council has worked with our partners in government and the private sector over the years to educate small business owners about the need to get smart about cybersecurity. Progress has been made, but more needs to be done. According to a CNBC/Survey Monkey Survey conducted this past May,  “about six in 10 small business owners are very or somewhat confident that they could quickly resolve a cyber attack on their business if needed.” That means a lot of small businesses – about 40% – lack the confidence and resources to recover quickly, or at all.

So, many small business owners need help in securing the right protective tools and technology for their businesses, and on the back-end they need help if they are victimized by a cyber attack.

In addition to building cyber-preparedness among entrepreneurs and their employees, it is critical that U.S. policies help to develop a skilled cyber workforce to address current and future threats. After all, the bad guys will never stop. They will continually work to devise sneaky attacks and creative pathways to steal data and financial information, and generally wreak havoc in the digital realm across all sectors of the U.S. economy.

That is why SBE Council supports the bipartisan “National Community College Cybersecurity Challenge Act” introduced by U.S. Representatives Lisa McClain (R-MI) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) , a bill that will help address the skills gap in our workforce by funding community colleges that institute programs tailored towards cybersecurity degrees.  As noted in the press release announcing the legislation:

“There are roughly 597,000 open cybersecurity positions in the United States. In 2020, 75% of community colleges did not award a single cybersecurity-related Associates degree and fewer than 3,000 individuals nationwide earned such a degree.”

Obviously, there is much work to be done when it comes to modernizing America’s educational system to ensure that it is producing workers whose skills match what is needed in the economy. That is especially the case with skills required for technology and digital-era jobs, which are plentiful and offer very competitive pay and benefits.

On the matter of cyber security jobs and training, we agree with Rep. McClain’s sense of urgency, as it is vital to our economy and our national security:

“The work to close the skills gap in cybersecurity must start now, and it must start with the next generation.”

And there is no reason why it shouldn’t. There is too much at stake for America’s economy and our national security for Congress to simply sit on practical, bipartisan solutions that leverage existing resources and know-how. As stated so matter of factly by Rep. Clarke, “The National Community College Cybersecurity Challenge Act stands as a key step towards reaching that necessary goal.”

Indeed it is, and Congress must act!

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.



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