News: Featured Stories

December 2, 2014

Need for more certificate, undergraduate security programs stressed


  • Boston
UMass Boston hosts third annual National Cybersecurity Network Workforce Summit.

Panelists at the National Cybersecurity Network Workforce Summit were unanimous in their assessment Tuesday: there is a critical need for more educational programs to prepare a workforce highly skilled in cybersecurity.

The University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, and the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) sponsored the third annual event, Educating the Next Generation of Leaders to Get Ahead of the Threat, which was held in UMass Boston’s Campus Center.

The daylong program of panels and networking opportunities brought together corporate and education leaders who are engaged in re-engineering the relationship between business and higher education.

“There are sites that you can go on and buy credit cards that have been stolen at 20, 30, or 40 dollars a card with a guarantee that they will work,” said UMass President Robert Caret, as he welcomed the crowd. “It behooves us, therefore, to bring our area of expertise in a way that can fight that and that’s what we’re all here today to talk about: how do we provide a workforce that can help us move forward with the kind of security we need and the security we deserve in our day-to-day lives.”

Provost Winston Langley pointed to Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections (BATEC), based in UMass Boston’s College of Advancing and Professional Studies, which focuses on curricula that provide students with the kind of skills discussed at the conference. The National Science Foundation awarded BATEC a four-year, $5 million grant to expand its efforts nationwide.

“We are proud to be collaborating with leaders on initiatives that serve both our students and our partners in the world of business and society as a whole,” Langley said.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, who moderated the first panel on UMass system initiatives, talked about the findings of the UMass Cybersecurity Taskforce, formed last spring. The task force recommends creating new certificate programs, 2+2 community college transfer programs, and specialized undergraduate and graduate programs focused on cybersecurity, as well as a cybersecurity research center.  

The task force also suggests that there should be a network liaison from the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) in the system president’s office, who will look to create internships and job opportunities in the cybersecurity sector for students across the system. The task force’s preliminary report will be available at at a later date.

During panel discussions, Burning Glass Technologies Chief Executive Officer Matthew Sigelman talked about the research his company has done on the need for cybersecurity-related jobs. Sigelman said the number of cybersecurity jobs has grown 74 percent over the last 5 or 6 years, as compared to 33 percent for information technology jobs overall, and that these jobs take 25 percent longer to fill.

In addition, Burning Glass has found that 85 percent of jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and that two-thirds require a significant amount of experience. There is also a significant demand for specific certifications.

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership is made up CEOs of some of the commonwealth’s largest businesses. BHEF is the country’s oldest membership organization of Fortune 500 CEOs, college and university presidents, and other leaders who promote innovation and enhance U.S. global competitiveness.