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[Education News]
Bill Oldham: "African-Americans make up only three percent of the information security analysts in the United States in a field where jobs are expected to grow 18 percent through 2024. This gap can be closed by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)."
Photo: Matthew Singh

Bill Oldham, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation, above, speaks on HBCU's in the follwoing article below.

African-Americans make up only three percent of the information security analysts in the United States in a field where jobs are expected to grow 18 percent through 2024.

This gap can be closed by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), even as they face key hurdles such as limited resources, declining enrollment, rising operational costs and financial deficits. Fortunately, they can do this in a relatively efficient way that blends education and paid work experience opportunities for students.

Brief History of Risk Management

Formal risk management began after World War II and has been associated with the use of market insurance to protect individuals and companies from various losses associated with accidents and litigation. Other forms of risk management emerged during the 1950s, with the use of modern risk management tools evolving during the 1970s and expanding rapidly during the 1980s as companies refined their financial risk management practices.

More recently, there has been a fast-paced shift to apply risk management to the cybersecurity industry which emerged post-9/11. The cybersecurity industry now has such a grip on our daily life in the United States that there are not enough skilled professionals to feed this rapidly growing job market in an industry which is statistically under-representative of ethnic minorities.

Creating Sustainability

Given this inequity, how can HBCUs respond? While HBCUs are uniquely situated to address this need, they often lack the resources necessary to tackle the necessary changes that are indicated. Just like any business, colleges and universities face significant risk to their data and operations because of cybersecurity threats. Lack of a stringent cybersecurity process could be detrimental to the future of any college or university, especially HBCUs, where resources and funding are limited, and impacts could be more severe. Looking at traditional security measures, many HBCUs are struggling to improve their broad measures due to the multi-faceted requirements that make up those measures of enterprise risk at their organization.

HBCUs and MSIs have the daunting task of providing relevant, timely, and market-based training and education in an ever-evolving environment. To be sustainable they must find new ways to mitigate the risks they face as a business, and the financial and reputational risk realized when students drop out of school before graduation.

These organizations require human resources and tools to establish a risk management framework and achieve the critical knowledge transfer that will enable sustainable risk management and mitigation processes. Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation has developed a program which enables students to work while going to school, giving them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the risk management and cybersecurity fields of study and helping them to build their résumé, earn money for expenses and develop a network of life-long contacts.

This program positions students to secure higher-paying jobs after graduation and gain the necessary experience and knowledge to qualify as an applicant to sit for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited Risk Management Society (RIMS) Associate Risk Management Professional (ARMP) examination.

This program becoming established in HBCUs and MSIs across the country would close the employment gap in the field of information security analysis in communities where it is needed most while enabling education, health, and economic empowerment in a way that ultimately enriches the entire nation.

Thinking Ahead

Today, graduation rates at HBCUs and MSIs average 36 percent and many students are unable to repay their student loans due to lack of post-graduation opportunities. At the same time, the outlook for risk management-related jobs is expected to realize a 28 percent increase for the 2016-2026 period, which is much higher than the seven percent growth anticipated for many other career paths.

A new report by Homeland Security Today states that minority cybersecurity professionals are underrepresented in senior roles. Optimism remains strong among minorities, however, with 75 percent of minority cybersecurity professionals reporting job satisfaction. Implementing and encouraging participation in programs designed to address the unique challenges faced by HBCUs and MSIs not only has the potential to advance, embolden and elevate individuals, but support and stimulate progress and growth within the cybersecurity workforce.

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