DeSantis wants to prepare K-12 students in cybersecurity

by | Mar 2, 2022


Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at the University of South Florida (USF) on Wednesday morning to announce the creation of a $20 million program to help facilitate cybersecurity opportunities through the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF. DeSantis, citing an increased reliance on cybersecurity both domestically and internationally, stated that state agencies have worked on implementing more cyber IT science educational opportunities in grades Kindergarten through 12th.

The program will initially start at a regional scale at USF, but DeSantis hopes that success in education would help provide expansions to schools in other statewide metro areas like Miami and Tampa and the schools that call them home. Since 2019, cybersecurity program enrollment among students has risen nearly 40 percent, with 143,000 grade school students involved in IT academic paths. DeSantis hopes to double the enrollment numbers within the next 2 years.

“That’s a really big deal, you’re putting students in positions to be able to get skills that going to be immediately in demand,” said DeSantis. “You just have to look at what’s going on around the world. I mean a country like Russia, China, this cyber field is something that they use to try to advance their interests, and of course targets in the United States is going to absolutely be on the top of their list. You also have rogue states like North Korea and Venezuela and Iran which is engaged in the cyber realm.”


The initiative marks the first in the nation of its kind, offering students as young as 11 and 12 able to gain rudimentary and foundational skills for the sector of information technologies. DeSantis claims that there are upwards of 22,000 unfilled high-paying cyber security jobs within Florida, with hopes that the new program will help fulfill the vacant positions.

“You have the cyber end of things, which is typically viewed as something that is in a postsecondary framework because there’s so much opportunity and so much need, but one of the things we’ve wanted to do with all of this is start preparing people with skills prior to being in college,” said DeSantis. “We’ve worked really hard on the K through 12 system to get more cyber and IT science in the classroom. We’ve been able to get funding from the legislature to do that. This funding will be coordinated through the Florida Center for Cybersecurity to help middle school, high school, and college students obtain credentials.”

At the state level, a cybersecurity task force was created in order to review operations and make recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity efforts in Florida. In the current fiscal year, cybersecurity efforts have received $30 million in funding.

“We’re proud of this funding. We think it’s going to make a difference. You’ll probably see an immediate impact, but you’ll really the bigger impact in 5 to 10 years as this becomes something that is more standardized. It’s going to be a very good thing for all involved,” DeSantis concluded.


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