WMCAT’s new tuition-free career training pathway in cybersecurity and GRC aims to address family economic security, diversify the tech talent pipeline, and support inclusive growth in West Michigan.
We are proud to announce the launch of our new Cybersecurity + GRC pathway as part of our tuition-free Adult Career Training Program to provide Kent County adults experiencing under and unemployment the opportunity for thriving-wage careers in cybersecurity and GRC (governance, risk, and compliance).
The addition of the tech training pathway in West Michigan comes at a time when employer demand for trained specialists in cybersecurity and GRC is high and rising. WMCAT’s new training pathway will help to advance regional, cross-sector strategy to increase tech education and employment opportunities, in step with The Right Place’s recently announced 10-year plan to position Greater Grand Rapids as a tech hub.
“We know that right now economic opportunity is in technology,” shared Jamon Alexander, president + CEO of WMCAT. “WMCAT is committed to connecting people to new educational and career pathways, diversifying the tech talent pipeline, and supporting inclusive growth in the region to ensure all families can thrive in the digital economy.”
Positions in this field can have a significant financial impact on adults and families who remain economically fragile despite working – often referred to as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). In Grand Rapids, 46% of households live below the ALICE threshold; and in Kentwood and Wyoming, 45%. Economic disparity is more pronounced when looking at the racial wealth gap. In the City of Grand Rapids, the median household income is $42,000, but it is only $24,000 for Black residents and $31,000 for Hispanic residents.
WMCAT has a 17-year history of supporting adults on the path to sustained economic security through career training in health information and pharmacy technician. Eighty percent of Adult Career Training Program graduates begin careers with local employers like Spectrum Health, Meijer, and Mercy Health within six months of graduation. The program is tuition-free and includes a stipend, access to an emergency fund, and on-site supports so that adults have stability as they create a path to economic security for the future.
In its first year, our seven-month Cybersecurity + GRC pathway will train 12 Kent County adults. We will partner with national provider GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) for Intelligent Ecosystems, or GRCIE (pronounced “Gracie”), for virtual student instruction in a virtual reality environment.
WMCAT is able to provide this new training pathway tuition-free thanks in part to recent multi-year funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is proud to provide support that will help to reduce the racial wealth gap in Grand Rapids through this training-with-stipend program, designed to impact families in our communities of color,” said Tracie Coffman, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, children are at the heart of everything we do, and we know that for children to thrive, their families have to have, not only access to good paying jobs, but also career pathways to be able to support them.”
“We’re excited to partner with W.K. Kellogg Foundation and GRCIE to bring a people-centered approach to tech training, embracing the diverse lived experiences, inherent value, and ingenuity of adults in our community,” Jamon shared.
Kent County adults interested in WMCAT’s tuition-free Cybersecurity + GRC pathway of the Adult Career Training Program can learn more and begin the three-step enrollment process at work.wmcat.org/enrollment. Classes begin in December 2022 with enrollment open now through Oct. 17, 2022. Adults who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are encouraged to apply.