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WGU Texas Chancellor Discusses the Nexus of Cybersecurity, Texas Workforce, and Higher Education at SXSW

News Brief - 3/6/17

Chancellor Veronica Vargas Stidvent Joins Leaders from Texas Association of Business, Comptia, and Cyberwarrior Network on SXSW Panel

AUSTIN — Today’s fast-paced, rapidly expanding cybersecurity industry requires a highly skilled, educated workforce. How Texas and the U.S. responds to the increasing demand for these specialized workers is the topic of a South by Southwest (SXSW) panel that features WGU Texas’ Chancellor Veronica Vargas Stidvent.

The panel, “Cyberhunters for Business: New Battle for Veterans,” brings Stidvent together with Elizabeth Hyman of CompTIA, Belinda Matingou of Texas Association of Business, and Nigel LeBlanc of Cyberwarrior Network to talk about the unique role veterans can play in addressing the workforce shortages in many IT fields.

“As cyber threats and security breaches increase, the demand for highly-skilled cybersecurity experts will continue to expand,” said Chancellor Stidvent. “The unemployment rate in the cybersecurity sector is -6 percent, leading to a severe talent shortage. And, WGU Texas is uniquely positioned to help educate and develop top talent.”

The talent shortage in cybersecurity combined with the estimated impact of this high-tech form of criminal activity totaling $445 billion to the global economy means Texas and the U.S. should look for ways to put specialized higher education within reach of more students.

Added Stidvent, “Our best hope for meeting the needs of this key sector is to look to our veterans and non-traditional students and arm them with the degrees and training that lead to successful careers on the front lines of protecting our data, finances, and security.”

WGU Texas emphasizes the non-profit university’s long-running collaboration among business, educators, public policy makers and the veteran community in developing degree programs in high demand fields.

The university’s College of Information Technology recently launched the M.S. in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance degree program. Developed in collaboration with industry and policy experts, WGU Texas’ M.S. in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance offers coursework that aligns with the latest standards from national security organizations, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Security Agency (NSA).

In addition to the M.S. in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, WGU Texas offers seven bachelor’s degrees in IT-related study areas and three additional graduate degrees in IT.

“Like all WGU Texas programs, the IT undergraduate and graduate programs are competency-based, and the university continues to earn national acclaim as military-friendly,” Stidvent said.

Ideal for busy information technology professionals, competency-based education allows students to study and learn on their own schedules and at their own pace. With one-on-one faculty support tailored to their individual needs, students complete courses and advance as soon as they can demonstrate mastery of subject matter. As a result, many students are able to accelerate their progress and complete their degrees faster, saving both time and money. WGU Texas’ terms are six months long, and students may enroll on the first of any month, completing as many courses as they are able for a flat-rate tuition of about $3,000 per term.

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