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NGT Academy Training for Cybersecurity, Network Engineering

The Arizona-based IT training provider has added hybrid training courses for careers in cybersecurity and network engineering, with live instruction, online study groups, one-on-one conferencing and career coaching.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in IT-related fields is projected to grow by 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, stemming from a need to manage and secure growing networks in increasingly tech-integrated industries. To help fill the growing demand for IT professionals, the tech company and IT training provider NGT Academy is taking wisdom from tech training in the U.S. Air Force.

According to Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer Jacob Hess, the academy recently combined its No. 1 Network Engineer and Cybersecurity Accelerator programs to better prepare trainees for the two often-intertwined disciplines. Hess said he and Co-Founder Terry Kim modeled the program’s curriculum after skills-focused training they used previously as Air Force IT instructors.

“In the Air Force, they’re more concerned about whether you can do the job or not. That’s the concept behind our training," he said. “But what we realized in the field is that many people who were able to receive these certifications — even some prestigious ones like the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) — couldn’t demonstrate skills [needed] on the job that the certifications said they have.”

Hess said the program offers an asynchronous hybrid curriculum, allowing students to complete some courses and activities at their own pace, while also utilizing live instruction, online study groups, one-on-one conferencing and career coaching.

According to Hess, the new iteration of NGT's training focus comes following years of testing both in-person and self-paced online training modalities to equip students with practical IT skills. He said the academy initially offered fully self-paced online training when it was founded in 2016, before shifting to a more cohort-based training model. The program finally opted to settle on its current hybrid approach to better meet students’ demands for courses that are both in-depth and flexible, he said.

“We’re online first, and we don’t really have many plans to do [in-person training] moving forward. Instead, we plan to try to get our product into more people’s hands. What we’re working on right now is growing our online program presence as much as we can, through as many channels as we can find,” he said, adding that the hybrid model includes new accountability measures to keep students on track and instructors more involved in training.

Hess said the training is powered by NGT Academy’s in-house learning management system and regularly updated with new features and updates. So far, he said, the program has enrolled about 1,500 students, with plans to reach more as the program develops and grows.

“We have people who come into the program not knowing anything about IT, and at the end of the program, they’re getting a job with ‘engineer’ in their title,” he said. “The same is true with the cybersecurity side, where students are looking to get jobs as cybersecurity analysts.”

According to a recent report from the data research company Optimal, “tech bootcamp” training courses and other fast-track workforce development initiatives have gained popularity in recent months, as students look to cheaper and faster alternatives to traditional two- and four-year higher-ed programs to gain IT job certifications.

Over the past year, other tech companies, workforce development programs and higher education institutions across the U.S. have established various fast-track technical training programs focusing on skills such as coding, data management and software development, among other tech skills relating to network engineering and cybersecurity.

Hess said accelerated programs like those at NGT Academy aim to play a crucial role in filling vacant tech roles in the coming years as industries across the public and private sectors digitize their day-to-day operations.

“The number of people graduating with two- and four-year IT degrees isn’t nearly enough to fill the 3 million open IT jobs in the U.S., and many of them lack the necessary skills to do the job,” he said. “We really need programs like ours to help fill that gap. It’s absolutely necessary now.”
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.