• StrataFusion

Talent in Unexpected Places: The Changing Landscape (and Faces) of Cybersecurity

The face of cybersecurity continues to change, thanks in large part to industry executives who saw a need and did something about it.

In 2014, a group of Bay Area cybersecurity professionals worked together to address the gap of cybersecurity professionals and the growth of malicious attempts to compromise computer systems. The Consortium of Information Systems Executives (CISE) developed a partnership with Merritt College, creating an affordable way for people to learn the necessary skills to launch a highly rewarding career in cybersecurity.

Today, an important data point continues to reverberate: a prediction by Cybersecurity Ventures that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021, up from one million positions in 2014. Security jobs will be more in demand than ever.

"With the cybersecurity talent gap expected to grow 350% by 2021, we simply must work harder to prepare,” says Jim Cates, a CISE member and program director at Merritt College. “Any time we can empower a new generation of leaders to bridge a gap by putting their skills to work, industry benefits -- and so does the community around it."

Today, industry professionals from more than 50 Bay Area companies are working together to cultivate a program that sets a new standard for future cybersecurity professionals. As one of the first community colleges to offer a cybersecurity degree accredited by the state of California, the Merritt program continues to lead the way in both quality and results. The program is now entering its sixth year and will recognize the 5th graduating class in June 2020. Moving forward, the program will expand with more students and instructors, move lectures online, offer soft skills training and automate placement process.

StrataFusion Partner Mark Egan has been involved from the start as a member of CISE and the Merritt College Cybersecurity Program. “I’m so proud of the impact this program is having. Merritt students graduate not only ready for the workforce but uniquely equipped and prepared to make a difference for their employers,” Mark says. “Cybersecurity is a crucial part of successful digital transformation and StrataFusion is proud to be a Merritt College supporter. This program is not only enriching industry, it is truly transforming lives.”

The program is helping companies find hard-to-recruit talent and ensure that the cybersecurity field is not only more diverse but also more prepared with unique points of view. In addition to helping develop talent in unexpected places, the Merritt College Cybersecurity Program provides students a smart, affordable way to become a trained professional. It also provides a rare opportunity for students to learn about cybersecurity from experts who are currently active in the field.

Efforts are paying off. Merritt cybersecurity students continue to excel in national competitions. In fact, the SANs Cyber Talent Fast Track ranking hit a new milestone in 2019 with Merritt ranking 1st in California and 40th in the nation. Merritt student teams also consistently do well in the National Cyber League with three teams placing in the top 5 percent during the last competition and winning the Silver Bracket.

As your security team grows, be sure to connect with Merritt College to hire some of the best (and most prepared) young professionals entering the cybersecurity workforce.