California’s colleges, backed by support from the Governor’s Office and the tech industry, are continuing to refine a cybersecurity curriculum designed to guide students of all ages into careers in information technology and related fields.

The head of the state subcommittee working on that mission delivered an update Friday to about 100 webinar attendees, including representatives of community colleges and universities across the state, as well as the tech industry and others.

Dr. Keith Clement, a professor of criminology at Cal State Fresno, is the chairman of the Workforce Development and Education Subcommittee of the governor’s California Cybersecurity Task Force (CCTF). Clement, described by a peer as “the lightning rod and the champion” of the cybersecurity curriculum initiative, has been leading a team working to develop and refine a standardized model curriculum. The subcommittee is also supported by the California Department of Technology (CDT) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and Clement said that support has been crucial.

“This exciting project will include K-12, community colleges and universities to build a robust career pipeline/pathway in California,” said the announcement for Friday’s webinar. That includes the cybersecurity model curriculum, extracurricular activities, cyber competitions, apprenticeships and professional/career development opportunities.

Clement’s subcommittee has more than a dozen goals and objectives, including some key takeaways:

  • Aligning the curriculum’s terminology, job categories and job descriptions with those used in the IT industry is essential. Much as California simplified job classifications a couple of years ago, the subcommittee is devising classifications so students can easily determine which industry or government jobs would flow from a particular course of study.
  • With about 80,000 community college students currently enrolled in IT-related courses, the state and the tech industry share a strong interest in helping them find career paths in technology. That effort, Clement said, continues to gain support and momentum. “2020 is our year,” he said. “The support is there.”
  • The ultimate goal of the effort is to prepare 50,000 California graduates for entry-level IT jobs between 2020 and 2030. Clement said that in the nation as a whole, about 15,000 IT graduates enter the workforce every year.

Clement noted that as IT students’ aspirations are varied — some want to be a chief information security officer in the public sector, some want to work in the private sector — the curriculum should reflect that. And, he noted, not all cyber professions require strong math skills — or even a college degree.

The industry itself is recognizing that fact through a variety of internships and externships, apprenticeships and training programs.

Google, for example, is announcing a $49-per-month training curriculum. As noted in EntrepreneursHandbook:

“Google has already launched two Career Certificate courses for entry-level positions: Google IT Support and Google IT Automation with Python. About 85% of the 637,047 enrolled students left raving 5-star reviews. Based on this success, Google is planning to launch three more courses: one for data analysts, one for product managers, and one for UX designers. You can choose to get notified when these courses come out on their website.”

Friday’s presentation follows a related presentation on Sept. 2 by a panel including state government IT leaders, who discussed the importance of cyber education and the role industry can play.

As an indication of the broad government and industry support the cyber education initiative has garnered, panelists for that “Convening” included Julie Whitten, the California Government Operations Agency’s assistant deputy secretary of Innovation and Accountability; Isabel Guzman, director of the Governor’s Office of the Small Business Advocate; Stephen Dodd, IBM Certified project executive with IBM Public Partnerships; Peter Liebert, commander of California State Guard Cyber Operations and CISO for Cerner Government Services; and Nick Curry, senior program manager for Amazon Web Services’ AWS Military Initiatives.