CHOCTAW, Mississippi — Employees of Choctaw companies and school systems are receiving workforce development training through The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering. These classes are taking place in the state-of-the-art cybersecurity lab located in Choctaw, Mississippi.
Through a grant from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and in collaboration with the Mississippi Coding Academies, USM is providing training to the Choctaw Tribe, along with other groups in the state. The program, entitled Cyber4Work, is designed to help residents throughout Mississippi learn cybersecurity awareness and defense skills to prepare them for an ever-changing business climate.
Dr. Sarah Lee, Director of School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering at USM, states, “The demand for cybersecurity skills exceeds the number of individuals skilled through traditional pathways such as college degrees. To help close that gap, and to provide access to higher wage jobs that can be performed from Choctaw, MS, for employers throughout the country, we are providing this rapid upskilling workforce training to the Choctaw community.”
Dr. Lee emphasized the importance of cybersecurity awareness training as high-speed internet becomes available to more rural areas in Mississippi. “With the expansion of broadband, we will have more persons going online for the first time, and safe online behavior is important to personal safety in addition to national security,” she explains.
John Hendrix, Director of Economic Development for the Tribe, stated that the initial training is being provided to Tribal employees. Some of these employees will take additional courses that prepare them for industry certifications in cybersecurity, which will enable them to enter higher-wage technical jobs.
USM has contracted with Julia Fink, a U.S. Navy veteran and cybersecurity professional, to manage the program, and she serves as one of its instructors.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, under the leadership of Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben, is the only federally recognized tribe in the State of Mississippi. With over 11,000 members, Choctaw lands cover over 35,000 acres in 10 counties. Providing permanent, full-time jobs for over 5,000 Tribal-member and non-Indian employees, the Tribe is a major contributor to the state’s economy. Learn more at www.mschoctawbusiness.com.