AT&T Trains Future Cybersecurity Workers

Danessa Lambdin

AT&T is reaching out to high school and college students and is also retraining hundreds of its own employees in an effort to address a nationwide shortage in cybersecurity experts.

There are an estimated 209,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States alone. To help fill the gap, AT&T has co-hosted cybersecurity summer camps for teens, developed recruiting and training programs for college students, and established a skills program for its current employees.

“All employees are offered the ability to pivot their skills,” said Danessa Lambdin, vice president of security solutions. “Depending on an employee’s interests, goals and capabilities, we offer various levels and calibers of training, from proficiency training and certification courses to bachelor of science programs, and more.”

Since 2015, 735 AT&T employees have participated in Champlain College’s badge, certificate, undergraduate or graduate degree programs. Champlain is a private, not-for-profit college with a career-driven approach. AT&T offers tuition assistance for eligible employees.

This year alone, 286 employees enrolled in a Champlain badge, certificate or degree program, and some completed more than one program.

AT&T also funds a suite of external industry certifications, and it began its own in-house cybersecurity development program in June. The latter is a 3-year program for recent college graduates who are full-time employees. Participants rotate through various areas of the business before being permanently placed in a cybersecurity role.

“Our multi-prong approach supports a strategic mission to acquire, develop and retain cybersecurity expertise, with mechanisms in place for the continued development of such talent within a very dynamic and challenging environment,” said Kathleen Burke, director of technology and security. “The demand for highly trained cybersecurity professionals has increased, with exponential growth in demand for qualified cybersecurity talent expected. AT&T employs many innovative approaches to attract new talent in the cybersecurity domain, as exhibited in our feeder programs at the collegiate level.”

Those approaches include actively recruiting, hiring and encouraging additional training for talented summer interns. Post-graduate students have the option to enter the cybersecurity development program.

At the basic level, more than 4,000 sellers have completed the initial phase of training through the in-house Security Proficiency Program available to all employees. The program is designed to provide a foundational understanding of AT&T’s cybersecurity strategy and solutions.

In addition to retraining its own employees, AT&T is also working to build teens’ interest in STEM jobs.

The communications company teamed up with the Air Force Association over the summer to host CyberCamps aimed at teaching teens cybersecurity basics and promoting STEM skills. The AT&T-hosted camps were held in El Segundo, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and San Antonio as part of the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program. The association held a total of 160 CyberCamps this year, up from 84 last summer and 26 in 2015.

“Our CyberCamps have exploded in popularity,” said retired Brig. Gen. Bernie Skoch, Cyber Patriot national commissioner of AFA. “AT&T helps us make them fun and rewarding. We are grateful for their strong support.”

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