Iron Mountain, Mich. (WZMQ) – In Dickinson County, a move to provide improved career opportunities to local high school students brought representatives and educators, as well as some state and national officials together at an event aimed at recognizing the first 6 pioneering high school students entering the cybersecurity career field.
A new program, developed by Guide Star, aims to provide students with real-world work experiences and prepare them for a career in the rapidly-growing field of cybersecurity.
Senator Gary Peters spoke to the students virtually in support of the advancements of the program developed by Guide Star, which is a division of CCI Systems and a major employer in the county. The senior Vice President of Guidestar, Evan Rice, says this technical education is one-of-a-kind, and puts these students at the forefront of the growing industry.
“Now they’re working as full-blown cybersecurity resources, either during their senior year or right after they graduate, and with those four technical certifications, and the work experience they’re getting with us they’re just as qualified for entry-level cybersecurity jobs as students with four-year degrees,” remarked Rice. “Our contacts at the national level often don’t see this with high school students, so it’s unique in that way too. It really proves the value of education that we’re getting in the U.P,” added Rice.
This program, with the support of Michigan Works! – which is acting as a United States Department of Labor registered apprenticeship intermediary – is a significant step towards providing high school students with the necessary skills and experience to enter the cybersecurity industry. The students are from various local schools in the area and are taught through the technical education center at the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District.
U.P. Michigan Works! was able to facilitate the development of Guide Star’s Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program, as envisioned by Guide Star’s Senior Vice President Evan Rice, by establishing a partnership between Guide Star, the DIISD and other local school districts, Bay de Noc Community College and their DIISD/Bay Early College program, the Upper Peninsula Cyber Institute of Northern Michigan University, and national partner the Youth Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Initiative.
The six students from the Dickinson-Iron ISD technical education center have been selected for a unique opportunity to undergo a paid apprenticeship in cybersecurity. Justin Hosking is one of the students being recognized at the event and is excited about the opportunity to learn more about the IT world and computers.
“Just learning new stuff about the IT world and computers, setting me up for my future in the industry. And I plan on going to college possibly somewhere in the area, and I could also work remotely with CCI while I do that, they said,” stated Hosking.
The apprenticeship initiative is part of the U.P.’s collaborative efforts to grow a cybersecurity training program being offered to young talent in the area. Representatives from the technical education center as well as Bay College offered their congratulations to all the students and parents, as well as the local educators involved. With Hosking and his peers gaining valuable experience in the field, the program is sure to continue producing well-trained professionals in the cybersecurity industry.