Reinerson is a trustee of San Diego Community College and lives at the Scripps Ranch. ShabazzEd.D., is the president of San Diego City College and lives in La Mesa.
On November 14th, representing San Diego City College, we traveled to Sacramento to share our efforts to open the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Defense and Analysis Program to the California Community College Board of Governors. We were joined by two other community colleges who also presented their programs. This issue will be referred to the Board of Governors in January.
Our presentation shows how the expansion of 30 additional bachelor’s degrees at California colleges will help offer key training for growing industries not currently offered in UC or UC systems.
There are currently no UC or CSU transfer options for a Bachelor in Cyber Security. Employers regularly publish at least a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. This can often lead community college students and other job seekers to expensive for-profit and online colleges.
The passage last month of Assembly Bill 927 allows California community colleges to offer more bachelor’s degrees in the most in-demand industries that lead to careers with “acceptable wages.” Since the undergraduate program was launched in 2014 by Senate Bill 850, 15 of California’s 116 community colleges now offer bachelor’s degrees in career-specific fields that create a highly skilled workforce for industries struggling with a skilled workforce.
An August study by the UC Davis Center for Community College Leadership and Research found that 56 percent of students who graduate from one of 15 undergraduate programs would not have earned a bachelor’s degree if they had not been offered a community college.
While California is often a leader in higher education, and many of our UC and UC campuses are in the top 10 percent of public universities in the country, admission to these universities has become highly selective and costly for the average working family.
The Wheelhouse report says that the percentage of community college graduates with a bachelor’s degree is almost 26 percent higher than among students who transferred to CSU. This shows that the California undergraduate program is successfully preparing much-needed skilled workers and placing them in in-demand fields such as biomanufacturing, automotive technology, health information management, and others not currently offered by the state’s public universities.
In January, City College applied for a bachelor’s degree in cyber defense and analysis. We are keen to enroll in our sister college, San Diego Mesa College, which currently offers a bachelor’s degree in health information management. City College currently offers a successful Cybersecurity Associate’s Degree that qualifies students for entry-level positions, helping to fill nearly 3,000 cybersecurity positions in San Diego County each year.
In 2021, there were about 28,000 known cybersecurity incidents worldwide. In the US alone, more than 310 million people have been affected by data compromises. A bachelor’s degree in cyber defense and analysis is required to fulfill the mission of California Community Colleges to provide affordable and accessible education for all Californians to achieve careers above “acceptable wages”. The median salary for a cybersecurity career in San Diego County is approximately $103,590 per year.
A 2019 Cyber Center of Excellence report indicates that there are approximately 900 cybersecurity companies in San Diego. Almost 61 percent of these companies indicate that they intend to increase the number of their employees. According to the report, the majority of cyber employers indicated they were having trouble hiring qualified workers.
Cybersecurity careers are projected to grow by 12 percent between 2020 and 2025. Labor market statics point to the urgent need to diversify the technology industry, such as cybersecurity. A 2021 Forbes article confirms this. The article indicates that women make up 18.2 percent, blacks 11.8 percent, Asians 9 percent, and Hispanics 7.4 percent of the cybersecurity job market.
San Diego City College is one of the nation’s most diverse community colleges, with nearly 51 percent Hispanic students, 22 percent white students, 10 percent black students, and 9 percent Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Even more impressive is that college professors accurately reflect student demographics. Students who attend City College come from a variety of backgrounds, which can help diversify the cybersecurity industry.
Last year, 141 community colleges across the country awarded more than 560 bachelor’s degrees in 24 states. California needs to be part of this growing trend because our economy needs local college graduates with the high-level skills that the bachelor’s workforce provides.
Community college students also tend to be location-bound, needing to seek out affordable education in their local communities, provided by institutions such as San Diego City College. It is our hope that the Board of Governors of Community Colleges and UC and CSU California Colleges can come together to support the expansion of the undergraduate program at California Community Colleges to provide our diverse student body with a clear path to in-demand careers that require a bachelor’s degree.