Colorado Springs provides a thriving environment for the cybersecurity industry to flourish, benefiting job seekers, entrepreneurs, and established companies in the process. The region is home to 150-plus cybersecurity companies and is in a unique position as a diverse hub for IT companies, higher education, and national defense. The demand for talent in the cybersecurity sector is growing at an exceptional rate as cyberattacks on companies and government agencies continue to rise in the 21st century. Partnering with different communities helps build a strong talent pipeline in the industry. Providing a sturdy network of local colleges, universities, and business leaders is a crucial aspect of building a cybersecurity talent network—and Colorado Springs is not short of such connections.
Steps to Close the Talent Gap in Colorado Springs
Closing the talent gap requires detailed knowledge of the cybersecurity workforce, the barriers that stand in the way, and how to break these barriers in a cost-effective way. Local organizations, including the Chamber & EDC, are partnering to attract talent and ensure industry programs are available and equitable.
Colorado is heavily invested in its cyber talent pipeline as seen through the $6 million grant to fund a Colorado Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program and expansions including the $5.5 million grant to fund the UCCS Cybersecurity Building. The grant will allow the buildout of 30,000 square feet of their Cybersecurity Building with labs, classrooms, and collaboration spaces, scheduled to open this year.
One way to fuel the talent pipeline in the community is to encourage the K-12 class to learn more about cyber, drones, and high-tech fields. After-school programs like the up-and-coming new e-sport, Drone Soccer, are making their way into schools in Colorado. Colorado Springs’ Coronado High School is serving as a test pilot where STEM strategy is seen throughout the curriculum for sixth to 12th graders on how to build, program, and fly drones.
Additionally, Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) teaches hacking defenses and countermeasures, network-security fundamentals, security architecture, and more. Individuals can move directly into high-demand career fields that offer job security, generous salaries, and growth opportunities. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center is preparing a suite of cybersecurity training classes for individuals and businesses offered in partnership with Murray Security Services.
Veteran Skills Transition to a Cybersecurity Career
Colorado Springs is home to five military installations and a strong military veteran community, many that have the skills needed for a job in IT or cybersecurity, including an already established security clearance which is often required for high-level positions. Skills gained from time in the service provide on-the-job experiences that can help veterans attain a position as cybersecurity professionals.
Veterans often transition into entrepreneurs or join a specific education program like SecureSet, which provides one of the most comprehensive, immersive, and compressed cybersecurity education programs in the country. Plus, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) offers scholarships and benefits to those in the military. Specifically, its McCord-Herbst Student Veteran Center allows individuals to find collaborative transition assistance, as well as social and academic support for all veterans, military, and their family members.
The National Cybersecurity Center’s (NCC) Cyber Education Program provides cybersecurity leadership, with two main pillars: K-12 education, NCC Student Alliance, and the Adult Education Initiative. Classes will be held in-person for Colorado Springs residents and will be conducted online for out-of-town residents. Some other business-friendly resources include Catalyst Campus and Exponential Impact.