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Now is the time to develop a WV cyber workforce

At the West Virginia Coding and Cyber Summit Nov. 15, McAfee Executive and West Virginia native Jason Rolleston made an excellent point about why West Virginians are well suited for jobs in cyber. In describing a neighbor from Pocahontas County who could fix cars with “duct tape, baling twine and coat hangers,” Rolleston accurately noted that West Virginians have a rich tradition —born out of necessity — of finding ways to make things work.

He pointed out that West Virginians can take that same mentality of finding creative solutions and apply it to cybersecurity, but many don’t realize — or don’t believe — this is possible. What we need to do is help them realize that what you need to know as an auto mechanic can translate to a career in cybersecurity.

Getting the word out about the enormous and growing number of jobs in cybersecurity was a key focus of the Coding and Cyber Summit. Right now, there are 872 open cybersecurity jobs in West Virginia, according to Cyberseek.org. Nationwide, there will be 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2022, and this sector is projected to grow at a rate of 28 percent through 2026.

For West Virginia — with a solid base of Federal agencies centered on homeland security and national defense already in place — this offers a great opportunity to accelerate training programs for these positions, which generally pay higher-than-average wages.

In order to be successful in these efforts, we need to have the private sector engaged. TechConnectWV sought and received support for the Summit from global technology giants like Intuit, IBM, McAfee, and Northrop Grumman, to highlight the incredible opportunities to grow West Virginia’s knowledge sector and digital economy. Growing in-state tech companies were also involved, including Advantage Technology, Allegheny Science and Technology and Core10.

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