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SynED and US VALOR Help Bring Veterans Into the Cybersecurity Workforce

America’s veterans just received another hand-up. No stranger to challenges and helping keep the country safe, US VALOR (Veterans Advancing through Learning, Opportunities, and Resources), a Oceanside, CA, non-profit focused on serving transitioning military personnel and veterans, is pleased to announce its U.S. Department of Labor, Registered Apprenticeship Program. Thanks to this new partnership between industry, government, and education, the US VALOR apprentices can continue their service as part of the country’s cybersecurity workforce. SynED has worked closely with the California Advanced Supply Chain Analysis and Diversification Effort (CASCADE), funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, to help bolster California’s cybersecurity workforce through education, training and apprenticeship programs.

Like other apprenticeship programs, US VALOR will play an integral role in filling hundreds, if not thousands, of open cybersecurity positions across California. Many entry-level jobs can be started without a college degree, allowing workers to learn on the job while earning an education.

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This model is perfect for veterans, which made it appealing to US VALORs President and Executive Director, Kelly Kendall, and Chairman of the Board, Chuck Buresh. They will provide a rich environment and growth experience for their apprentices. The accepted participants will work with employers during a twelve-month training program that includes professional certifications and more. This training is free of charge to the apprentices, thanks to the US VALOR model.

“Veterans bring life skills that are much more valuable than some credentials or degrees,” said Kendall, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “Veterans are interested in this career path and know that they need some help getting started. This is a way for them to save their GI Bill and work on a degree as they learn on the job.”

Students will rotate among up to four cybersecurity firms (employer partners), staying at each one for three months, with the goal of receiving a full-time job at one of the four at the end of the 12-month program. They will take classes to obtain professional certifications and professional skills that are not routinely covered in the military.

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“The goal is to help them understand what it’s like in the civilian world, including things like how to give presentations and negotiate win/win scenarios,” Kendall said.

California has long recognized the need to bolster its cybersecurity workforce, and US VALOR is helping to make it one step closer to reality.

“The most recent report from the California Cybersecurity Labor Market Analysis highlights that finding qualified workers to fill cybersecurity positions is a widespread challenge facing many employers throughout the state, and particularly defense contractors, across all industries.” Compounding the issue is the fact that California’s educational institutions are not currently supplying enough qualified candidates to fill the thousands of cybersecurity job openings,” said Eileen Sanchez, CASCADE program director. “We are pleased that the partnership between synED and US VALOR’s apprenticeship program represents a step forward in California’s ability to enhance defense industrial base ecosystems and to address urgent cybersecurity workforce needs pertinent to our national security.”

As one of the integral participants in CASCADE, synED, also a non-profit, provides professional services to help higher education meet workforce development needs. SynED will oversee the development of this model, with the goal of 90 cybersecurity job placements by mid-2021.

“We are honored to work closely with US VALOR and help them to be successful with their program and, in turn, help to fill the talent gap in California,” said Teana Fredeen, CASCADE project manager for synED. “We are excited about the opportunities US VALOR will provide for the former men and women of our armed services.”

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