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Denmark Tech, Cisco, Fusion Centers hold security operations center apprenticeship signing

Denmark Technical College held an apprenticeship signing day ceremony on April 26 at the Solomon Blatt Administration Building to celebrate the expansion of their partnership with Cisco, Fusion Centers, Fusion Cyber and Apprenticeship Carolina.

Four individuals will begin the apprenticeship program at the Fusion Centers Security Operations Center, which will be housed on the Denmark Tech Campus. Apprentices were on hand to sign certificates acknowledging their commitment to the program, which will continue the revolutionary work of Cisco, Fusion Cyber and Denmark Tech to strengthen the cybersecurity infrastructure of HBCUs and other institutions while increasing diversity in the information technology industry.

In addition to apprentices and their supporters, leadership from Cisco, Denmark Tech, Fusion Cyber, Apprenticeship Carolina and CBDA were in attendance.

“Cisco is committed to preserving the legacy and sustainability of our nation’s HBCUs. I couldn’t be more pleased to expand our partnership with Denmark Technical College, Fusion Cyber and Procellis to offer this groundbreaking apprenticeship program which will provide students hands-on training for cybersecurity careers,” said Scott McGregor, director of Cisco’s Social Justice Action Office. “I’m so proud of these young people who are ready to take the next step in their cyber careers and I’m excited that we get to be a part of their journey.”

The apprentices had the opportunity to speak, including Kyler Marlowe, who is working toward completion of the DTC Fusion Cyber cybersecurity certification program and noted their inspiration for joining the program was to obtain a flexible career that would offer job security while breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity. I, too, know what it feels like to be a minority and I never thought I would be here. I’m thankful to Fusion for believing in me and I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” said Marlowe.

Fusion Centers has a goal to sign on an additional 26 apprentices this year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Our goal over the next ten years is to impact over 100,000 underrepresented individuals and veterans by offering them a tangible pathway that can increase their lifetime earning potential by over $2M, with a national economic impact of $200B,” said Christopher Etesse, Fusion Cyber CEO.

The flagship Fusion Center will start off in a suite of Blatt Hall on the Denmark Tech campus, with plans being made to eventually break ground on a new academic building that will house the Center for Innovation, which will be the first technical or academic building on the DTC campus since 1975.

The apprenticeship offers an earn as you learn platform, creating a pipeline of highly trained talent to enter the evolving field of cybersecurity and offering opportunities for post-apprenticeship, skills-based employment.

Apprentices in the Fusion Centers program will put their newly acquired cybersecurity skills to work while expanding their core skill competencies, providing a pathway to an in-demand career field with this unique hands-on learning opportunity.

“The security operations center is going to be focused on keeping Denmark Tech and other colleges safe from cyber-attacks. It will serve as a first-of-its-kind training platform that will help career-minded individuals overcome the ‘you need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience’ hurdle that is prevalent in the cybersecurity industry, while increasing diversity and filling the cyber talent gap in the United States,” said Sandor Slijderink, director of the Denmark Tech site Fusion Center.

“It will take all of us creatively working together in order for the next wave of workers in the cybersecurity and AI fields to be successful. This unique program brings together industry, education, and community, resulting in a solution driven approach to the talent shortage by making a strategic investment in the future through intentional inclusivity. Together, we’re creating next generation apprenticeships for a next generation AI cyber economy that all generations can participate in and benefit from,” added Demeterius Smith, apprenticeship consultant for Apprenticeship Carolina.

The security operations center apprentices officially start on June 3.

“I’m elated that we can offer this life changing program to these budding cybersecurity professionals. Our cyber program would not have grown to the place that it’s in today if we did not have organizations like Cisco and Fusion Cyber, who are bought in to the mission and vision of Denmark Technical College and understand the importance of equity and social justice. The opportunities we are providing to these apprentices is unrivaled,” said Willie L. Todd Jr., Ph.D., president, and CEO of Denmark Technical College.

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