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There is a huge shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the manufacturing sector and a new workforce development program for is making a move to create awareness, opportunities and pathways to careers in the sector.

MxD released the program that is underwritten with a $1.25 million grant from the Siemens Foundation.

The grant will fund the development and implementation of a highly-skilled cybersecurity for manufacturing initiative as part of MxD’s workforce strategy known as MxD Learn.

With an increasing number of cyber threats to operations, manufacturers in the United States – 98 percent of which are small and medium-sized – need qualified workers to protect against cyber attacks as they aim to stay competitive and invest in modern technologies to digitize operations.

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However, two-thirds of respondents in a 2017 Global Information Security Workforce study said they lack the cybersecurity professionals needed.

MxD Learn’s strategy will develop a taxonomy of high-demand cybersecurity for manufacturing jobs and skills, develop curriculum and training partnerships, and provide hands-on training through apprenticeships.

“MxD Learn directly supports our mission of igniting and sustaining today’s STEM workforce,” said David Etzwiler, chief executive of the Siemens Foundation. “MxD Learn leverages the expertise and network of MxD to narrow the opportunity gap for young adults, particularly those from underserved or underrepresented populations. As employers look to build a more diverse, highly skilled cybersecurity workforce, this is a clear opportunity to help young people prepare for great jobs, regardless of their background or zip code.”

A portion of the grant will support a digital manufacturing laboratory at Waukegan High School, a Title 1 school in metro Chicago, where MxD has previously supported curriculum development.

In addition, MxD Learn will replicate the program at a second high school in Chicago, creating a template for further expansion. This location allows MxD to incorporate input from its regional academic and industry partners at every stage of the process. These programs represent the first steps toward scaling the high school curriculum program in more locations over the next few years.

“Career and technical education in high school and beyond is essential to addressing the growing manufacturing skills gap in the United States,” said Chandra Brown, chief executive of MxD. “This effort will help cultivate the skillset needed for the factory of the future — where data science and programming are as much a part of day-to-day activities as welding and machining.”

MxD Learn will also forge connections among the high school programs, area apprenticeships, community colleges and industry partners, developing models that can be used by others in the field.

In addition, building upon previous expertise, MxD Learn will define roles and training pathways specific to cybersecurity for manufacturing. This “jobs taxonomy” will identify the skills and credentials needed for future workers and help current employees plan for their personal career growth.

MxD Learn will kick off this fall with initial activities planned over three years as part of the Siemens Foundation’s SPARKS initiative, which supports STEM training programs for advanced manufacturing and other industries.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, MxD equips factories with the digital tools and expertise they need to begin building every part better than the last.

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