As the always proud President of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), I stood even prouder last week as our college hosted a special event for the inaugural speech of the new White House National Cyber Director, Mr. Harry Coker. As this was the first time in CCBC’s 65 years that our college has been asked to host a national event, our whole college community was abuzz with excitement.

Mr. Coker came to the right place to launch his tenure as the White House National Cyber Director. This was neither a political event nor a political message. He spoke directly to our mission, embracing the role of all community colleges – and certainly CCBC – in meeting the skill, talent and diversity needs of the Cyber job market. While our four-year university partners are key ingredients in meeting the higher level of credentialing important to the cyber community, community colleges play an even greater role in building a diverse cyber talent pool.

In addition to presenting a speech that earned him a standing ovation, Mr. Coker met with students, faculty and industry partners. He encouraged the private sector, academia and non-profits to join his team in “unleashing America’s cyber talent. The talent is here.” The talent is at CCBC and at every one of America’s community colleges. Last year, CCBC alone enrolled just over 6,400 cyber, computer science and technology students. 500 graduates from these programs have moved into the workforce over the past three years, with many remaining to work in the Baltimore region unlike many four-year graduates who return home to other states. At CCBC – just as at our colleague community colleges, we find that our cyber students are hired right out of the classroom, not only achieving creative, high paying positions but receiving scholarship support to complete their degrees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites cyber security jobs as among the fastest growing career areas nationally, predicting cybersecurity job growth at 31% through 2029. As the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) continues to remove barriers in government contracting, including the requirement for 4-year degrees, community colleges like CCBC play a pivotal role in meeting the rising demand for cybersecurity professionals. We will continue to rise to that responsibility, which is made easier when key leaders recognize community colleges as key providers of workforce training.