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North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley today emphasizes demand and opportunities in cybersecurity for Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week. North Dakota students, parents and educators are encouraged to explore educational and career opportunities in the cybersecurity industry. 

This nationally recognized week, part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, emphasizes the growing skills gap in the cybersecurity sector, which has virtually zero percent unemployment.  

Cybersecurity is the fastest growing career field in the world today, with industry reporting 2 – 3 million vacancies worldwide. 

Opportunities abound in North Dakota for students, veterans, and those in the workforce who wish to change fields. Positions include:  

o Penetration Testing 

o Incident Responders 

o Digital Forensics 

o Governance Risk and Compliance 

o Infrastructure 


North Dakota has made great strides in advancing computer science and cybersecurity in classrooms. North Dakota’s “PK-20W Initiative,” is a collaborative effort involving more than 40 public and private sector partners committed to providing resources and training to teachers, administrators and students in computer science and cybersecurity. PK-20W, which stands for ‘kindergarten through PhD and workforce,’ is focused on providing 21st-century skills that are vital in virtually any industry. It is spearheaded by EduTech, the educational technology arm of the Information Technology agency.  


“I encourage our incredibly dedicated educators to tap into resources available through EduTech and our many partners for both professional development and in-classroom opportunities. North Dakota is making incredible headway in supporting our students to enter the tech industry and Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week continues that momentum,” said Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley.  


“Instruction in computer science and cybersecurity helps our students acquire knowledge that they can apply to any situation. They learn critical thinking, problem solving, and other computational skills. They learn how to be good digital citizens, and how to keep themselves safe online. Computer science and cybersecurity are foundational knowledge in education today. Families recognize the importance of these subjects, and our students enjoy learning them,” said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota superintendent of public instruction. 


“The digital landscape continues to transform society and technology-based jobs are accelerating at exponential rates,” said Mark Hagerott, North Dakota University System chancellor. “The 11 institutions of the University System are working collaboratively and with industry partners to identify and deliver courses, certificates, and degree programs that will lead to high demand, high paying jobs in cybersecurity and related technology fields.” 


North Dakota was the first state in the nation to develop integrated computer science and cybersecurity standards.  The computer science and cybersecurity credential was approved by the legislature in April of 2020.  Additional accomplishments include:  

  • Strategic alliances with Palo Alto Networks, CYBER.ORG, Code.org, Microsoft, National Center for Women & IT, North Dakota’s Gateway to Science, TechND and others have helped advance statewide efforts; 
  • Over the past three years, more than 6000 educators have participated in dozens of computer science, cybersecurity and STEAM education and awareness sessions; 
  • Three North Dakota students received national recognition by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT); a West Fargo High School student won the highest honor in the ND/SD Affiliate competition.   The Aspirations in Computing Award is given annually to students who are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing as demonstrated by their computer experience, related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers, and post-secondary education plans.  
  • 44 percent of public high schools taught a foundational CS course in the 19-20 school year, 23 percent of AP CS exam takers were female.  Code.org’s curriculum is used in 30% of elementary schools, 24% of middle schools, 19% of high schools.   
  • 11 schools, 16 teachers and 120- students participated in Microsoft TEALS (Technology and Education Literacy), connecting teachers with tech-industry volunteers to create sustainable CS programs.  The ratio of number of classes to schools is increasing, t current schools have been able to add more classes to their CS pathway for students.  33% of schools that have worked with TEALS have graduated to teaching CS independently.   
  • CYBER.ORG’s participation in North Dakota’s PK-20W Cyber Education and Workforce Initiative resulted in the development of a Mentor Teacher partnership with EduTech and a 250% increase in the number of teachers enrolled in CYBER.ORG’s curricula statewide. 





C O N T A C T : 


Jecca Geffre     |     701-955-0304  



Alisa Cook          |     701-328-7408  


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