Bolstering Cybersecurity Education(ISC)Â² Addresses Skills Gap, Offers Certification Prep
For example, (ISC)Â², a not-for-profit organization specializing in certifying and educating cybersecurity professionals, is offering classroom materials, including certification courses and prep work to help prepare students for certification exams after they graduate.
Also, students at participating schools will get discounts on (ISC)Â² certification exams, plus access to potential mentors at 150 (ISC)Â² chapters around the world, a members and young professional network and free webinars.
Jo Portillo, manager of the new Global Academic Program, or GAP, says (ISC)Â² launched the project to work with higher education in stressing to students that continuing professional education begins once they start their academic career.
"It's not something that they do later on, it's not something we do after we get certification," she says. "They are going on a path of continual learning. They need to continually keep their skills up in order to stay employed."
So far, (ISC)Â² is working with several academic institutions, including University of South Florida, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Excelsior College and University of Phoenix.
Institutions participating in the new (ISC)Â² GAP program sign an agreement that outlines the collaborative efforts based on their specific needs. "(ISC)Â² offers both a kit model and a licensing model, which may involve a fee depending on the needs of the academic institution," Portillo says.
New Master's Program
As the University of South Florida prepares to launch its master's program in cybersecurity in the fall, working with (ISC)Â² is a logical step, says Sri Sridharan, managing director of USF's cybersecurity initiative.
"It's the only organization that issues the CISSP certification, which is the gold standard if you want to work in cybersecurity," Sridharan says. "So we signed a contract to get into a partnership with them."
The partnership with (ISC)Â² enables USF, which is establishing a Center for Excellence, to offer the CISSP prep courses and curriculum for its new master's program. So when students graduate, they will have taken the requisite course and content to be able to take the CISSP exam, an independent certification for information systems security professionals.
As part of the partnership, (ISC)Â² took a look at the course work and curriculum for USF's cybersecurity programs to determine if it was relevant and contained any gaps, Sridharan explains.
By conducting workforce studies, Portillo says (ISC)Â² is determining the difficulties students face when attempting to enter the infosec field and devising ways to address those challenges.
For the study, students and industry and subject matter experts "are sitting at the same table, answering some of the questions, so that we are not building something in a vacuum," she says.
Portillo hopes the new GAP program will help increase educator's awareness of the (ISC)Â² certification program so they can help students better prepare for careers in the field. The goal, she says, is "having students come into our program [with] knowledge of what our certifications are, being mentored by chapter members, [and then] going out into the field when they graduate and giving back."