Butler County district opens 1 of Ohio’s 2 academies for cyber security training

State and local officials joined with teens at Lakota East High School on Monday to launch one of only two Cyber academies in Ohio designed to train students for the computer industry.

Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted told the audience, which also included executives from the Blue Ash office of the international IT corporation Belcan, that Lakota is leading the push to train teens in cyber security skills through its invention of Lakota’s first Cyber Academy.

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With starting salaries as high as $60,000, the opportunities for the 152 Lakota East and Lakota West students in the first cyber security program offered at both Butler County schools are limitless, Husted said.

Industry experts predict there will be 3.5 million jobs in cyber security by 2021 that will go unfilled, Belcan officials said. Students enrolled in the district's new program will be able to earn up to six industry certifications and will qualify for internship opportunities.

“Cyber threats are growing,” Husted told the academy students at the program’s ribbon-cutting event. “Businesses want to expand and they need your talent.”

Military officials and officials from industries everywhere have repeatedly expressed concerns and urgency about cyber attacks on their networks, he said.

“This is a local issue, it’s a state issue, it’s a national issue and it’s a global issue,” he said, predicting Lakota’s new program will soon “be a topic of conversation around the state.”

Terry Williams, chief technology officer for Belcan, which is part of a global network of companies that are suppliers of engineering, technical recruiting and IT services to customers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, industrial and government sectors, said “this is a global issue.”

“Cyber is the new battlefield and the only way to solve this type of global issue is we must recruit, train and bring additional talent into the (employee) pool,” Williams said.

The corporation will cover all costs for Lakota’s course offerings at the two high schools.

Belcan executives said they chose to partner with Lakota in large part because the district is experimenting with digital learning – including giving free laptops to junior and senior high students – at a pace beyond almost any other district in southwest Ohio.

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Lakota East senior Brendan McGee is a member of the first cyber academy class and said, “I’m so excited and this is going to be a lot of fun.”

“There are good opportunities for internships and all around good stuff,” said McGee.

Classmate Jillian Harris said, “I joined the Cyber Academy because I know a lot of people in the field and it’s a growing field and I want to be a part of that. I’m really good with technology.”

Lakota Board of Education member Lynda O’Connor said the academy “is a great example of how education and business can work together … and I’m very excited about this opportunity.”

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