Tarrant County College, through its philanthropic arm, Tarrant County College Foundation, has received a one-year, $250,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase Foundation that supports the design and implementation of Guided Academic Pathways and Career Pathways. Aimed at increasing college completion, Guided Pathways is a structured, college-wide approach that helps students understand from the start their academic and career options, choose a program of study, graduate on time, gain employment and stay on path for lifelong learning.
“Creating greater economic opportunity for more people—in Tarrant County and around the world—is the defining challenge of our time,” said Todd Ritterbusch, managing director, Tarrant County Commercial Banking, JPM Chase. “And there’s never been a more stable or reliable path to prosperity than a good paying job with the opportunity for advancement.”
In early 2017, TCC was selected to participate in the American Association of Community Colleges Pathways 2.0 project, which helps community colleges design and implement scalable academic and career pathways. TCC is actively building comprehensive educational tracks aligned with career maps using the concept of stackable credentials—specific sequences of degrees and certificates students can earn over time, leading to increased marketability and job advancement. Career success coaches and academic advisers work with each student to develop a personalized educational plan. This pathways model makes it easier for students to obtain training, skills, degrees and certificates that match their career interests and meet crucial workforce needs.
TCC’s career pathway in cybersecurity—the measures used to protect computers and computer systems—is the initial target focus of the grant. Information Technology (IT) is one of several designated career pathways, with input from local businesses, TCC faculty representatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields identified a need for cybersecurity training as a high-demand, high-skill and high-wage occupation.
TCC will develop the curriculum for the cybersecurity program with input from local industry to design the pathway from the coursework to a career in the field. The result will be a model that can then be followed as Guided Pathways is brought to scale across the District for all program areas.
Once the cybersecurity career pathway program has been developed and launched, TCC’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity can be completed in just two years.
With the ever-growing frequency and severity of cyberattacks, security specialists are among the most sought-after professionals in the tech industry. The future looks bright for cybersecurity career seekers, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasting an employment growth of 22 percent to 2020 for IT experts involved in cybersecurity. Many employers look for computer network professionals who have earned a bachelor’s degree, but the BLS also reported that a two-year associate’s degree and highly skilled technical knowledge is attractive to recruiters and potential employers. Cybersecurity jobs abound in both the private and public sectors, with salaries ranging from $57,000 to $162,000, according to Glassdoor.com.
“This could not be more pertinent,” Ritterbusch said. “Cybersecurity is under threat nationally, locally and internationally. We must have people trained to protect our businesses, our civic institutions, our municipalities and anyone who uses technology. JPMorgan Chase recognizes the value of TCC, which is uniquely positioned to address the needs of students and our area’s workforce.”
Since 2009, JPMorgan Chase has awarded more than $850,000 in grants to the TCC Foundation, with funding used to support TCC’s Adult Education program, including basic literacy, English language acquisition/ESL instruction, high school equivalency/GED preparation and test completion and workforce readiness training.