CyberWyoming Unveils Apprenticeship Program for Cybersecurity-Minded Business Advisors

CyberWyoming Unveils Apprenticeship Program for Cybersecurity-Minded Business Advisors

LARAMIE – Responding to a need for cybersecurity business counselor certification, CyberWyoming is launching a new apprenticeship program in June 2023 for business advisors seeking to incorporate cybersecurity into strategic and business planning.

“When we won the Gula Tech grant last year, we used the money to document and formalize our internal training program for business advisors outside of CyberWyoming so they can include what we do in Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses in their day-to-day business counseling,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming.

This meets CyberWyoming’s mission to promote the cybersecurity welfare and prosperity of the Wyoming business community.

“We want other economic development organizations in local communities statewide and nationwide to take advantage of the apprenticeship and our program training model,” said Baker.

The new registered apprenticeship, called Cybersecurity Business Counselor for Micro Businesses, pioneers an interdisciplinary approach to guiding micro businesses to manage their security risks, especially those that don’t have information technology (IT) departments to help. CyberWyoming’s program combines practices from social work, project management, business advising, risk management, and cybersecurity planning and management.

“Our goal is to empower economic development organizations both statewide and nationwide to embrace this apprenticeship opportunity and adopt our training model. Our Cybersecurity Competition program is all about small businesses and helping them through the process in easy-to-digest bites,” Baker said. “By the end of the program, usually about seven months, participants are excited about their progress. Now business advisors will learn our methods and bring that local touch to their own communities.”

The apprenticeship program also addresses a true need, she said. With the enactment of the Small Business Cyber Training Act of 2022 in December, it is now mandatory for a percentage of Small Business Development Center business counselors to undergo cybersecurity training and become certified.

CyberWyoming is “uniquely positioned” to fulfill this nationwide requirement, leveraging their six-year matured program and the Gula Tech funded online training portal to meet the criteria, Baker added. The business advisor training guidelines are expected to be published by the Small Business Administration by the end of June.

“I’m confident that our program will surpass expectations for any micro business or entrepreneur,” said Baker.

Registered apprenticeship is a Department of Labor program that has met the need of the emerging digital world, including technology professions and new-collar jobs over the past decade. Technical professions often value industry certifications as much or more than a degree from a higher education institution.

Apprentices, regardless of the occupation, gain practical knowledge while working as employees and following a structured learning plan recognized by the Department of Labor. With technical apprenticeship, employees undergo additional related training, effectively creating a dual-credit program. As they study for industry certifications, they will simultaneously progress in the competency based registered apprenticeship program.

CyberWyoming celebrated the graduation of the first Cybersecurity Technician Apprentices in the State in 2022, employed by CMIT Solutions of Casper. With the introduction of the Cybersecurity Business Counselor program, CyberWyoming has expanded their apprenticeship sponsorship to include three distinct occupations: IT Specialist, Cybersecurity Technician, and the new addition. Notably, employers who have embraced the CyberWyoming apprenticeship program have reported higher retention rates, thanks to heightened levels of employee engagement—75% of graduates have remained with their employers.

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