Purdue Lands Federal Grant for Cybersecurity Program

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Acosta made the announcement while touring facilities at Purdue. Acosta made the announcement while touring facilities at Purdue.

During his visit Tuesday to the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced a $12 million award to Purdue Polytechnic Institute. The funding will be used to develop a program to help fill what the university says is a growing need for cybersecurity professionals.

Purdue says the number jobs in the cybersecurity field is expected to grow by 37 percent between 2018 and 2022 with up to 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings expected by 2021. The university cites reports saying companies are having difficulty filling jobs because of a lack of necessary skills in the workforce.

The Purdue Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program, or P-CAP, is being designed to create a steady pipeline of cybersecurity professionals for employers, while also offering a channel for participants to find high-paying jobs. The program is being led by executive director Geanie Umberger, a clinical professor at Purdue Polytechnic.

"Both industry and government have a critical need for cybersecurity experts, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute has an outstanding cybersecurity program," said Umberger. "For this grant, we built on that program to propose a multifaceted apprenticeship pipeline that unites industry, government and education in a coordinated effort to develop a highly qualified cybersecurity workforce."

The university says the program will provide a pathway into jobs such as network and cloud operations, cyberforensics, biometrics and cryptocurrency.  Purdue Polytechnic will develop the training programs while engaging with industry partners from the public and private sectors.

The program aims to serve at least 5,000 individuals in its first four years. Apprentices will acquire industry-recognized cybersecurity certifications as well as college credit for the work they complete.

Purdue says it is the only Indiana institution to receive federal funding through the grant opportunity. The university says the program will eventually have a national reach once it partner with Purdue University Global and its Department of Labor-approved cybersecurity apprenticeship.

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