Cyber Skills Center Launches in Tulsa to Develop Diverse, Local Tech Talent Pipeline

July 6, 2022
Tulsa Community College and Tulsa Innovation Labs, in partnership with edX, the global online learning platform from 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU), and SkillStorm, launch the Cyber Skills Center.

The new program, based in Tulsa, will develop a diverse talent pipeline for the in-demand and rapidly expanding career fields of cybersecurity and data analytics at no-cost to Tulsa-area residents.

Developed with edX’s Access Partnership initiative, the Cyber Skills Center model is designed to streamline the skill development and career transition process for underserved communities. The program offers a 24-week online accelerated training boot camp curriculum offered by Tulsa Community College, in partnership with edX, along with a paid apprenticeship upon graduation, and a suite of wrap-around services to make education and career transitions more accessible. These services, which are offered through the support of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, include childcare, transportation stipends, coaching and job readiness support.

The initial program is estimated to support more than 200 Tulsans over the next three years.

“TCC has extensive experience and a 52-year history of evolving with constant workforce changes and developing individuals with the needed skills for in-demand careers,” said Dr. Leigh Goodson, TCC president & CEO. “Plus, we serve a diverse population of more than 20,000 students through training and education whether it is delivered in non-credit or credit courses.”

The Cyber Skills Center will also lead to additional opportunities through college credit towards a 2-year associate degree through TCC, or bachelor’s degree at the University of Tulsa School of Cyber Studies or Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business.

Demand for careers in these fields are at an all-time high, for example, cybersecurity is expected to see a demand of nearly 3.5 million jobs by 2025, according to research by Cybersecurity Ventures.

With an average entry-level salary in this field in excess of $63,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and hundreds of available jobs in the greater Tulsa metropolitan area, there is an extraordinary opportunity to leverage the demand for cybersecurity talent to create a new pathway to the middle class.

“Our Access Partnerships help provide the infrastructure to bring colleges and universities, local workforce agencies and nonprofits, funding partners, and employers to the table to solve regional skills gaps and empower more working adults to succeed in the digital economy,” said Anant Agarwal, edX founder and chief open education officer at 2U. “We are honored to welcome TCC as our first community college partner and look forward to working together with them and TIL to help reskill and upskill Tulsa area learners as the city continues to grow its tech community.”

Upon completion of the 24-week program, graduates will be eligible to continue learning enterprise-level skills in cybersecurity and data analytics through SkillStorm’s 10-week immersive training program, which also provides potential opportunities to be connected with SkillStorm’s diverse group of commercial and federal clients.

“Through our work with Fortune 500 companies across the country, we’ve seen rapidly accelerating demand for workers with cybersecurity and data analytics skills in an increasingly competitive labor market,” said Joe Mitchell, chief operating officer at SkillStorm. “We look forward to the opportunity to help upskill individuals in the Tulsa community — and expand access to career pathways both in the region and with major employers nationwide.”

This effort builds on TIL’s strategy to create one of the more inclusive tech ecosystems in the country. By building the foundation for tech sectors where Tulsa has a competitive advantage: energy tech, advanced aerial mobility, virtual health, and cyber and analytics, and building accessible pipelines to each, Tulsa aims to serve as a new model for how tech growth can truly serve residents from diverse backgrounds and prepare the economy for the future.

"TIL is committed to making big investments where opportunities for traditionally underserved Tulsans overlap with industries in which Tulsa has a right to win,” said Nicholas Lalla, managing director of Tulsa Innovation Labs. “This initiative is a home run on both counts, and will be a game-changer in how the city leverages its unique competitive advantages to give Tulsans from every background a chance to access a high-paying career in cyber and data analytics."

To ensure the program meets the educational needs of diverse student populations in Tulsa, the Cyber Skills Center is working with nearly 30 nonprofits and community partners to provide feedback on program design and recruit students for the program. One such organization is Black Tech Street, a group advancing the digital transformation of historic Black Wall Street.

“No one should be intimidated by words like cyber and analytics,” said Tyrance Billingsley, the executive director of Black Tech Street. “People who excel in this field will be those who are creative, great at problem solving, and who have an eye for recognizing patterns. Cyber Security may sound scary and "elite" but it's not, and we want to demystify this world by making that clear. That's why this partnership was a no brainer. The Cyber Skills Center will be an incredible and accessible tool for helping Black Tulsans break into the tech world and will be crucial for our mission to rebirth Black Wall Street through technology.”

The Cyber Skills Center will launch the first class in Fall 2022. To get started, apply at tulsacc.edu/cybercenter.

*updated July 8 to add research reference and link

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