IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Western Massachusetts a Training Ground for Cyber Workforce

The editorial board of The Republican notes the rising cost of cybersecurity attacks on public agencies, the fast-growing job market for cyber professionals, and a wealth of certification and degree programs.

(TNS) — More and more aspects of our lives are moving online, in the cloud, controlled by apps on our phones or laptops. Simultaneously, bad actors are constantly looking to take advantage of weaknesses in our systems. The shift to remote work and changing habits related to online payments and consumer services have certainly offered many opportunities.

Now, the population has a chance to fight back. It’s an opportunity that comes with major benefits for Western Massachusetts.

At the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum an industry expert indicated there were 13,000 open cybersecurity positions in Massachusetts. The expert also said Massachusetts residents lost around $100 million from cyber crimes in 2020 and in 2019 one out of six Massachusetts municipalities had been hit with a ransomware attack.

All this means the bad guys are picking up steam. And the good guys, cybersecurity experts, will likely be in high demand moving forward. It’s very likely the 13,000-job figure will grow. An important question: Will we be ready with trained manpower to beat the bad guys?

Cybersecurity jobs are just part of demand. A business website recently ranked the metropolitan Springfield area as having the highest-percentage growth for tech job postings in the nation. The review showed that there were 3,650 tech job postings in the third quarter of 2021 as compared with 602 postings a year ago.

Richard K. Sullivan Jr., president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., said the top ranking is “obviously good news.” Sullivan said: “We are blessed here in Western Massachusetts to have a strong collection of schools of higher education, and that’s what companies are looking for. The talent is sitting in the classrooms of high schools, vocational tech, community colleges and four-year colleges.”

With many economists, academics and industry leaders looking at the future of work, there looks to be a promising formula right here in Western Mass. Bay Path University has been leading the charge in cybersecurity training for around a decade, and Springfield Technical Community College has a robust program in computer security. In September, University of Massachusetts Amherst received a $4.4 million federal grant to train students in cybersecurity which renews the university’s CyberCorps Scholarship Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

As the bad guys develop more sophisticated ways to break into our cyber lives, Western Massachusetts is primed to be a strong location to train skilled technicians to stay one step ahead of the criminals.

This can hopefully boost the regions reputation as a leader in technical innovation and draw in businesses, attracting jobs that can move our economy forward.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.