Cybersecurity skills are in high demand, and employers are challenged with finding the right talent to build their expanding workforce needs. At the same time, thousands of veterans are looking to apply their unique skills as they transition to civilian jobs. At Cisco, we see this as an opportunity to build a bridge between a targeted talent pipeline and our ecosystem of employers and partners.
On June 26, over 70 veterans attended the Virginia Veterans Cyber Training (VVCT) orientation at the Quantico Corporate Center, located across from of Quantico Marine Base, one of the largest Marine Corps installations in the United States. The VVCT, pioneered by Cisco, is a free accelerated online program offering cyber training from Cisco, Amazon Web Services, (ISC)2, Palo Alto Networks, and Fortinet. These companies, who in some cases are also direct business competitors, have come together for a common cause to provide veterans access to learning pathways which lead to industry-recognized certifications.
“Veterans can turn their service to country into a different kind of service – protecting vital systems, networks and infrastructure,” says Wesley Simpson, COO, (ISC)2. Maj. General (retired) John Davis, VP and Federal Chief Security Officer at Palo Alto Networks adds, “We believe veterans are well-positioned to pursue a career in cyber because their military experience equips them with transferable skills, including vital leadership qualities, which can be applied to developing the latest cybersecurity innovation.”
VVCT is available to veterans, transitioning service members, reservists, National Guard, and military spouses representing all branches of the military. Participants gain access to the training after completing a prerequisite 15-hour online Intro to Cybersecurity course through the Cisco Networking Academy.
Once enrolled in the program, they receive mentoring support and career resources to help connect them to local employment opportunities through VVCT delivery partners Onward to Opportunity (O2O), Yyotta, and Tech2000. Cisco’s two offerings for VVCT include CCNA Security and CCNA Cyber Ops, the new certification program introduced in connection with the company’s $10 Million Global Cybersecurity Scholarship Program.
VVCT was originally announced by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on November 11, 2016 (Veterans Day) as part of the Commonwealth’s goal to fill the 17,000-plus open cyber jobs in Virginia. The first class started in March at Naval Station Norfolk. In addition to the June Quantico class, there will be two other classes available this Fall.
The goal of the pilot program is to train approximately 200 veterans by the end of 2017 who want to live and work in Virginia’s cyber industry and secure employment for those that complete their training. With regard to employment, we will be working with Virginia Values Veterans (V3), a state organization consisting of approximately 700 Virginia employers, the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), and the Cisco Networking Academy Talent Bridge program, which matches qualified IT talent with our many channel partners and distributors.
Upon completion of the VVCT pilot, we will engage the Commonwealth of Virginia help to expand the program into a statewide initiative. We will also introduce the VVCT model to other states seeking cyber-skilled workers.