The last few years have seen some unrelenting headlines about cybersecurity attacks. Foreign governments have targeted on-premise servers, tampered with the software supply chain, and hacked into sensitive government files. Criminal ransomware groups have penetrated hospitals, attacked schools, and shut down an important national pipeline. A recent Microsoft Digital Defense Report disclosed that such attacks are growing in numbers and becoming more sophisticated.
Recently, Microsoft launched a national campaign with U.S. community colleges to empower and recruit 250,000 people by 2025 in the cybersecurity workforce, representing half of the country's workforce shortage. While some of these individuals will work at Microsoft, a big majority will work for tens of thousands of other employers across the country.
Microsoft plans to leverage the potential of nearly 1,044 community colleges located in every state and territory, and in every setting – urban, suburban, rural and tribal – of the United States. Presently, approximately 11.8 million Americans attend classes at a community college. Interestingly, 58 percent of community college students are enrolled in credit-earning courses, while the remaining 42 percent are enrolled in workforce, noncredit, and skill training courses. In 2018-2019, community colleges awarded 878,900 associate degrees, 619,711 certificates, and 20,700 baccalaureate degrees.
Microsoft entered into collaboration with national leaders at the American Association of Community Colleges and at the National Cybersecurity Training & Education Center (NCyTE), which is located north of Seattle in Bellingham, Washington, at Whatcom Community College. It also partnered with faculty at the Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin to launch new cybersecurity initiatives.
The four-year campaign announced by Microsoft will make the curriculum available free of charge to all of the nation’s public community colleges. It will also provide scholarships and supplemental resources to 25,000 students while also offering training for new and existing faculty at 150 community colleges.