First Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program

IRON MOUNTAIN – Addressing the critical talent shortage in cybersecurity, growing a cybersecurity ecosystem in the Upper Peninsula, and retaining young talent are key priorities for Evan Rice, the Senior Vice President of Guide Star. Evan recognized the potential of the high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) Computer Networking and Security Program at the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District (DIISD) as a valuable resource to address these challenges.

To establish Michigan’s first high school Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program (YRAP) in cybersecurity, Evan collaborated with various stakeholders, including the DIISD, Bay de Noc Community College, the Upper Peninsula Cyber Institute (UPCI) of Northern Michigan University, and national partners CareerWise USA, Jobs For the Future (JFF), and the USDOL Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Initiative. Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! (UPMW) played a crucial role as a third-party intermediary of Registered Apprenticeship, facilitating the development of the YRAP and supporting U.P. businesses interested in establishing their own apprenticeship programs.

Months of planning went into developing the YRAP, aligning it with the Department of Labor’s standards for Registered Apprenticeship Programs. The program focused on building key skill sets and a cutting-edge curriculum to address the current cybersecurity threat landscape faced by Michigan’s small-to-medium business community. The YRAP combined On-the-Job Training (OJT) and Related Technical Instruction (RTI) to provide students with comprehensive career preparation.

The first cohort of six DIISD students were selected as cybersecurity technicians and engaged in a paid, pre-apprenticeship experience to prepare them for further advancement. The program emphasized developing customer service skills, interpersonal abilities, and problem-solving capabilities as the foundation for their career progression. Students would move on to Customer Service/Help Desk positions as the initial level of the YRAP, followed by training in cybersecurity threat analysis and remediation. Ultimately, they would become integral members of Guide Star’s Blue Team, responsible for addressing significant cyber threats.

Guide Star’s YRAP contributes to the collaborative efforts in the Upper Peninsula to foster a cybersecurity ecosystem and retain young talent. By providing purposeful learning experiences and real-world work opportunities for high school students, the program aims to connect U.P. employers with young talent, helping to address talent loss and support the region’s economy.

Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! organized an event on June 8th to celebrate the partnership and the approval of Michigan’s first high school Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program in cybersecurity. The event brought together the six students from the first cohort, along with all the partners who contributed to this remarkable opportunity. VIPs from local, state, and national levels offered their congratulations during the program.

For more information about this program or similar initiatives, interested individuals can contact Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! at (800) 285-9675.