For the second time in four years, David Grant is out of work. But this time, he has hope.
Grant has a computer background but was unable to find a job when he moved to Maryland from Florida in 2010. Eventually, he updated his skills through a federally funded program that aims to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals in a region that includes Anne Arundel County and three other jurisdictions.
He got a job with a company that downsized in December. But now that he has four certifications -- including ethical hacker -- he is confident he will get a job soon. He planned to head to Pennsylvania for a job interview and he gets daily emails about job leads, unlike his previous spate of unemployment.
"(Cyber) is just growing by leaps and bounds. Anyone can get into the field," Grant said. He plans to pursue other certifications because the training never ends in the cyber field.
"You can't look at it saying 'I've got this and this is the end of the road.' Technology is changing so fast that you have to keep up."
Central Maryland's cybersecurity workforce includes more than 75,000 workers, according to a July 2013 Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore study. The state has nearly 20,000 open cyber jobs, with more than 13,000 of those available positions located in Central Maryland.
Grant is among the 1,149 to receive training from a nearly $5 million grant that led to the creation of the Pathways to Cybersecurity Careers Consortium. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded the grant to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals and information assurance workers in government agencies and businesses.
Aside from Anne Arundel County, the targeted area includes Baltimore City, Howard and Carroll counties. Participants enroll in their area's career center and attend an orientation. From there, a cyber career advisor will determine eligibility and finalize paperwork. Training is offered at Anne Arundel, Howard and Carroll community colleges.
Since its inception, the program has trained 886, awarded 755 certificates and helped get 721 participants employed. Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. led the initiative.
"The Anne Arundel County, Baltimore, Fort Meade region is the epicenter for cyber security in Maryland," said Kirkland Murray, CEO of the AAWDC. "There are great job opportunities here. If we don't get it right, don't get that skilled workforce, they will leave here and go somewhere else."
There are 745 students taking cyber courses at Anne Arundel Community College. AACC opened its Cyber Center in Hanover nearly a decade ago with about 50 students.
But interest seems to grow with demand. The college offers an associates of applied science degree in information assurance, where 756 students have declared it as their major.
"One of the things about a cyber program at any school is that in order for it to remain relevant, it will have to change on an ongoing basis," said Kip Kunsman, director of AACC's Cyber Center. "This changes semester by semester in a lot of cases. Just because the bad guys are trying to outsmart the good guys. We have to do our best to stay ahead of them (the bad guys)."
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