In August of this year, the first cohort of the Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3) initiative will begin comprehensive cyber security training. This training will be conducted simultaneously by two non-profit organizations: NPower and Year Up.
NPower, headquartered in Brooklyn, is a nonprofit that mobilizes the tech community and provides individuals, nonprofits, and schools access and opportunity to build tech skills and achieve their potential. NPower has provided six-month technology and professional skills training programs for young adults in New York City for 12 years.
Symantec employees have been involved with NPower for several years, volunteering to teach specialty technology skills in NPower workshops. “They’ve done a great job of using their expertise to lead that effort,” says Stephanie Cuskley, CEO of NPower. Indeed, a Symantec employee, Peter Hancock, won NPower’s volunteer of the year award, and now serves on their Advisory Council.
NPower’s upcoming SC3 program will enroll students who have already graduated from one of NPower’s previous courses. Thus, they will already have the “A+” certification, and will use the SC3 course to obtain the higher-level “Network+” or “Security+” certifications, and possibly the “Certified Ethical Hacker” certification.
“We felt like it was a perfect match, because Symantec is so familiar with our programs, is looking to fill the skills gap, and has expertise in this space,” says Patrick Cohen, Director of the Technology Service Corps at NPower.
NPower and Symantec bring complementary sets of skills and knowledge to the collaboration. “What NPower understands is the young person. What are the issues they’re going through? What are the challenges they face? We know how to turn a young person, in six months, into someone who is confident and believes in himself or herself. That’s what we bring,” explains Cuskley, adding, “Symantec brings its expertise as the leading brand in security. They are building a program with a very big vision to help young people succeed. That’s a commitment that is very powerful.”
Over the past 14 years, Year Up has built and maintained a successful track record of training young adults in information technology. Year Up’s goal is to bridge the “opportunity divide” between the 6 million young adults who are disconnected from stable career pathways and the 14 million middle-skill jobs that will go unfilled over the next decade.
Year Up’s partnership with Symantec through the SC3 is a perfect fit. “Symantec came to us and said ‘we want to solve the broader problem,’” says Jeff Artis, National Director of Corporate Engagement at Year Up. “They’re a natural leader in the cyber security space and made sense as a partner for Year Up.”
Year Up not only teaches its students technical skills, but also covers the subtleties of working in a professional environment. “People in corporate America think differently, act differently, and even eat differently. It’s a different culture,” says Artis.
This broad perspective on training makes all the difference in guiding the participants into successful long-term careers. Year Up focuses on training these individuals and also ensures that they find meaningful jobs. Eighty-five percent of Year Up graduates are employed (earning an average of $30,000 per year) or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program.
This combination of technical and professional skills training is not only beneficial for the young adults Year Up serves, but will also build a pipeline of qualified cyber security workers for leading companies. As Artis explains, “we want corporations to be aware that there’s a viable, vibrant source of talent out there.”