Expanding opportunities: WSU boosting cybersecurity programs in Tri-Cities to meet demand for postsecondary education

Washington State University has announced that it will be adding cybersecurity to its educational offerings in the Tri-Cities. According to the Tri-City Herald,

The school will offer more classes focused on the subject and plans to hire a faculty member by fall 2017, said Joseph Iannelli, the school’s founding executive director…

“This is a natural evolution of the need for computer science and cybersecurity professionals in the state of Washington, the nation and in the world,” he said. 

Students completing those programs will likely have jobs waiting for them, according to the Washington Roundtable, a nonprofit comprised of senior executives from Washington state’s major private sector employers.

Washington companies anticipate hiring 5,000 cybersecurity professionals within the next five years, according to Washington Roundtable. 

The reference is to this report by the Washington Roundtable and Boston Consulting Group. We first wrote about it in early October, saying,

In our Achieve priority, we emphasized the importance of postsecondary education. The new research from the Washington Roundtable and BCG underscores the urgency of acting now to help Washington students achieve the success we aspire to for them.

The Herald adds,

University officials plan to work with community college programs in the state to give students a chance to pursue graduate degrees in cybersecurity.

“So rather than waiting for students to apply and determining whether or not they would meet admissions requirements, we prefer to be more proactive because we want to serve all students,” Iannelli said.

Facilitating access to postsecondary training and education is important. And the Washington Roundtable’s four-point strategy for boosting postsecondary attainment will be a priority in the coming legislative sessions. 
  • Improve school readiness, with an emphasis on low-income children and traditionally underserved student populations.
  • Improve the performance of our K–12 system to ensure more
    high school students graduate career- and college-ready,
    with an emphasis on raising achievement among at-risk students and low-performing schools and students.
  • Increase participation of Washington students in postsecondary education, with a focus on delivering degrees, certificates, and other credentials in fields that will be in high demand.
  • Help students, beginning in elementary school, develop better awareness of the careers that will be available, inspiring them to think about their futures, the skills necessary for the jobs that interest them and the pathways to attaining those skills.

The Olympian today carries an editorial calling for increased funding of the Basic Need Grant to make postsecondary education more affordable.

Washington’s universities, community colleges and technical colleges are joining forces on a few common budget goals in the next year. One important focus is on the State Need Grant program. 

This valuable piece of Washington’s investment in higher education provides tuition aid to nearly 70,000 low-income students.

 The editorial acknowledges the funding challenges facing the 2017 Legislature. But the basic point is valid and echoes the Roundtable’s strategic objective: Increasing participation in postsecondary education. 
Seattle Times business columnist Jon Walton today writes about the strength of the metro Seattle economy. In his column, he observes,
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 11th nationally in the share of out-of-state adults with a bachelor’s degree, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. A total of 48.1 percent of prime-age adults fit this category here. No. 1 was Silicon Valley, at 59 percent, followed by Washington, D.C., and Boston, both around 56 percent.

The average for 100 metro areas was 41 percent.

Meanwhile, 35.2 percent of in-state adults with bachelor’s degrees were counted in the metro area. That ranked us No. 17 among large metros in the differential. (The two numbers don’t comprise 100 percent).

The data add urgency to the need to expand opportunities for Washington students to land jobs in their home state. That requires significantly boosting postsecondary training. Earlier this week, we cited this op-ed by Steve Mullin, Washington Roundtable president.

Mullin wrote, 

A survey of Washington Roundtable member companies shows a universal preference to hire Washington kids for Washington jobs. We have no doubt other employers feel similarly.

Expanding programs that meet demand, like the cybersecurity program at WSU, will help make sure Washington students have the postsecondary training and education they need.