Shortage of cybersecurity experts in Dayton area target of grant

A local higher education consortium has secured a grant to address the shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded nearly $1 million in grants for projects that are taking a community approach to addressing the issue.

The Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) won $198,759, and will enter into a cooperative agreement with NIST.

The southwestern Ohio cybersecurity consortium includes members from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Dayton Development Coalition, University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati and Wright State University.

Clark State Community College and Sinclair Community College are also involved in the partnership.

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They will work with Cincinnati’s commercial sector and Dayton’s large defense industry to provide a “rich environment for higher education to address the complex workforce demands of cybersecurity,” according to a news release.

Sean Creighton, president of SOCHE, told the Dayton Daily News that the consortium was one of five organizations nationally to win the grant money.

“It’s a great example of collaboration as we build this regional alliance around cyber,” Creighton said.

The funding will go toward partnerships that will increase the pipeline of students pursing cybersecurity careers — starting with students in grade school and high school.

A 2015 analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Stanford University’s Peninsula Press found that there were more than 209,000 open cybersecurity positions in the U.S., and the number of job postings had risen 74 percent in the previous five years.

The consortium will also conduct research about the demand for cybersecurity workers in the region.

“NICE supports local community efforts to leverage regional assets in cybersecurity education, training and workforce development,” said Rodney Petersen, NICE Director. “The RAMPS projects can serve as models for other regions.”

The NIST-led National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a partnership between government, academia and the private sector, will oversee the grants as part of its mission to support cybersecurity education, training and workforce development.

SOCHE, located at 3155 Research Blvd. in Dayton, has 23 institutions, colleges and universities in its alliance of academic organizations.