South Carolina is getting another degree program aimed at filling a shortage of trained cybersecurity workers in the state.
The University of South Carolina won approval last week to start a master’s program in information security from the state Commission on Higher Education.
The program will be South Carolina’s first postgraduate degree program focused specifically on cybersecurity. The Citadel offers a graduate certificate, and Coastal Carolina University has a program that touches on other areas. Charleston Southern, meantime, plans to start an undergraduate major this fall.
Developing talent in-state has been a key concern as South Carolina’s technology sector grows, especially around Charleston. But nationwide, labor shortages are especially pronounced in cybersecurity as new threats mount and more devices are connected to the internet.
An industry trade group has estimated that there will be a worldwide shortage of 1.5 million security professionals by the end of the decade, and the Labor Department projects that between 2014 and 2024, employment in the field will grow by 15 percent.
USC, for its part, says it expects to have a dozen or so students at a time in the program, which will use classes the university already offers.
Csilla Farkas, the USC professor coordinating the program, says the goal is partly to start training instructors to teach more cybersecurity workers. And while classes will be held in Columbia, Farkas said it will be offered remotely in Charleston, too.
"There is a big demand for instructors and teachers," Farkas said. "Some of them will probably go on and work directly for industry. Some of them may go to further graduate education at the Ph.D. level. And some of them may work as an instructor - part-time or full-time - for some of the technical colleges."
Open for business
Beaufort’s effort to replicate the growth of Charleston’s tech sector makes its official debut this week. The Beaufort Digital Corridor will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday on newly renovated offices for startups in the city, about 50 miles southwest of Charleston.
The city-backed initiative is a spinoff of the Charleston Digital Corridor, an economic-development group that launched in 2001. Beaufort officials hope to boost pay in the area and staunch the flow of young people away from the city.
Officials there argue that Beaufort faces a similar set of challenges as Charleston did at the start of the century, so they're aiming to give the region's tourism- and military-heavy economy a tech infusion. The project, announced in June, represents the Charleston's group's first foray into another region.