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WV Cyber Security Working Group Meeting Recap

With over 45 representatives in attendance, the West Virginia Cyber Security Working Group convened on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the West Virginia High Technology Foundation to share information and strategies to advance the cyber sector workforce and employment opportunities in the state.

The group is comprised of representatives from a wide variety of community and technical colleges, universities, cyber businesses and government contractors in the IT fields.  To see the State Journal article about this meeting, click here.

Alex Maestretti, Engineering Manager – Detection & Response with Netflix, shared his insights on how working in government roles can provide early career experience while also providing a route to gain security clearance. He also provided an overview of the type of entry level jobs that could be outsourced and thus prime for places like West Virginia to pursue.  He suggested that given the high cost of living in the Silicon Valley area and the fact that many workers go there for early career experience, West Virginia employers should consider recruiting that area for talent.

Colonel Jody Ogle, Director of Communications & Cyber for the West Virginia National Guard, discussed his organization’s robust plan to train and recruit cyber workers to the state. The Guard is working to recruit workers from around the country and will also fund a round of training in the fall.

Josh Spence with the West Virginia Office of Technology highlighted the “Secure West Virginia Act”, legislation which passed the state legislature earlier this year, and the focus it provides on doing cyber vulnerability assessments of state government agencies.

Jim Estep, President/CEO of the West Virginia High Technology Foundation, shared his insights on how to strengthen the Cyber Working Group’s efforts and discussed both the challenges and his experience in working to recruit cyber talent.

Nancy Ligus, Director of Workforce & Economic Development with the West Virginia Community & Technical College System, discussed the $4 million Apprenticeship In Motion (AIM) grant their organization received from the U.S. Dept. of Labor for IT instructional programs and apprenticeships. The goal of the program is to train and place workers in mid-to-high-pay apprenticeships in the IT industries. Companies that participate will be reimbursed fifty percent of the apprentice’s wages.

A variety of academic institutions, both 2-year and 4-year, informed the group about their growing expansion of cyber degree programs.

Josh Cook with WV Forward shared the map of cyber jobs and educational programs/pathways.  This is an important resource for identifying where the cyber training programs are located around the state as well as the job opportunities.  If you are an academic institution or an employer, check the map to make sure your program or job is listed. And, feel free to share this resource with your peers or on social media.

Information about several upcoming events was shared, including:

Moving forward, the group will concentrate on strategies to connect job providers with the cyber education community and cyber job seekers with employment opportunities.  Work will also focus on promoting the career opportunities and training programs available in the cyber fields to middle and high school, college and non-traditional students interested in this exciting career pathway.