The University of Mary Washington will launch a new cybersecurity certification program – the only one of its kind in the Fredericksburg region – thanks to a $110,000 grant recently announced by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Supplemented by equal matching funds, the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) Grant is the first awarded to the George Washington region. It will enable UMW to offer a 12-week, 40-hour noncredit program to prepare Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP) for successful exam completion. The initiative represents a collaborative effort between UMW, community colleges, Fredericksburg and Stafford County Economic Development Authorities, King George County and regional businesses.
“It’s a big win for the region to have this type of partnership engaging in workforce development and advancing the talent pipeline for technical skill sets,” said UMW Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young, who began working last year with economic development authorities and local jurisdictions to garner support for the initiative. “This is an opportunity for the university, our community colleges and industry partners to come together to create a unique program that will serve this region by building our technical offerings to support workforce development and economic growth.”
Slated to begin in the spring of 2020, the program will target the area’s shortage of certified cybersecurity professionals, helping fill existing positions and create entrepreneurial opportunities.
Linda Millsaps, executive director of the George Washington region, which includes Fredericksburg, as well as Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties, called the award and the collaboration that facilitated it “exciting.” “This locally based cybersecurity training is much needed,” Millsaps said. “The level of partnership is a model of how we can continue to do great things when we think and work together regionally.”
Germanna and Rappahannock community colleges will provide online pre-study support. The program also will include study groups, live training and online resources in preparation for the successful completion of the CISSP exam. A planning council will come together to develop the program’s curriculum and format, a consortium of partners will support marketing and enrollment, and an alumni group will help bolster regional retention efforts.
Nearly 90,000 security analyst positions, with a median income of $90K, opened across the country in 2015, according to Forbes magazine. “This is a great opportunity for UMW and our collaborative partners to accelerate the development of the tech talent pipeline in the region,” said University of Mary Washington President Troy Paino.
The UMW grant was part of more than $6.7 million in funding announced by Gov. Northam for seven regional projects in support of entrepreneurship, workforce and talent-development initiatives.
The cybersecurity certification program “brings our local jurisdictions together for a common purpose, which we all know is critical for regional technical talent development,” Young said. “For the university, being the convener means that we are actively delivering on our promise to develop talent at all levels for this region.”