Twenty years ago, cybercrimes cost businesses $17.8 million in damages. This year, Cybersecurity Ventures estimates cybercrimes will cost the global marketplace $6 trillion.

This staggering number is one reason Polk State’s Corporate College is offering an apprenticeship program starting March 8 to help employers train and upskill employees in cybersecurity.

“All businesses and industry employers want to ensure the integrity of their data. The more employees who are familiar with cybersecurity applications and knowledge, the greater the confidence employers have in the security of their proprietary data,” said Howard Drake, director of Polk State’s Corporate College. “There are companies every day that get held for ransom due to any opening in their procedures or firewalls. This is about remaining competitive in the current marketplace.”

Cybersecurity is the practice of securing networks, systems and any other digital infrastructure from malicious attacks, Drake said.

“With cybercrime damages projected to exceed $6 trillion by 2021, it’s no wonder banks, tech companies, hospitals, government agencies and just about every other sector are investing in cybersecurity infrastructure to protect their business practices and the millions of customers who trust them with their data.”

Program Offerings

Using a Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant, the Corporate College will be offering eight-week classes in the following topics:

  • Firewall Services and Cybersecurity Essentials
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • CCNA Cybersecurity Operations
  • Ethical Hacking
  • Computer Forensics
  • System Security Certified Practitioner
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional

Existing Polk State students and employees with a high school diploma or GED who are at least 17 years old and work in a position that has an IT function may participate in the apprenticeship program. The Corporate College has the ability to serve 160 participants by June 2023.

Participants can take one, two or all of the classes, depending on their needs, Drake said. Six of the seven online classes, which are three credits each, lead to a National Third Party Certification.

Each class costs $336. All materials, lab fees and certification exams are paid for by the MAP IT Grant. Employees who take all seven of the self-paced classes would earn a College Credit Certificate in Cyber Security.

Advantages

Gaining credentials in cybersecurity provides participants with skills employers are looking for to ensure their data remains safe. New employees gain a credential that looks good on their resume while those already in high-wage, high-growth fields can increase their technological skills or fill in gaps in their skills.

Companies looking to locate in Polk County have an additional opportunity to provide cybersecurity training to their employees as part of their onboarding, Drake said. “The need to protect data will always have the utmost priority for business and industry. During the course of this grant, businesses and industries have a valuable tool in their kits to provide a credited and inexpensive pathway for their employees. The added value is truly a win-win.”

The benefits to employers are several:

  • Participants can be trained in eight-week classes rather than 2- or 3-year programs.
  • On-the-job training is structured, and participants receive assistance from mentors who will help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to be fully proficient, based on national industry standards.
  • All apprentices who graduate from the program receive a nationally recognized credential signaling they are fully qualified.

For details and how to register, contact Garry Grafton at ggrafton@polk.edu

“Polk State Corporate College’s Apprenticeship Partnership in Information Technology aligns with Polk State’s commitment to supporting the growth of local businesses and ensuring that our workforce remains on the cutting edge of technology,” said Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti.

“The college is thankful to the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration for making this program possible for our students and local employers, who will undoubtedly benefit from the “skillsets provided to them through this short-term training opportunity.”

Florida Polytechnic University, Florida Southern College, Southeastern University and Keiser University all offer classes and/or degrees in cybersecurity creating within Polk County a strong talent pipeline within the speciality of cybersecurity and information technology.