Three years ago, area colleges and universities hustled to create courses that would prepare students for jobs in the booming high-tech industry.
Now, with the tech economy in shambles, higher education has shifted its focus to one of today’s hottest sectors: homeland security.
Trade schools, colleges and universities are offering new programs in everything from computer security, key for preventing cyber-attacks, to crime scene investigation, valuable for tracking down terrorists. The classes will target those in security-type jobs, as well as those interested in learning the skills.
Some colleges are incorporating terrorism study into regular coursework; others have created programs specifically for military officers.
Take Colorado Technical University, which recently unveiled certification programs, degrees and courses in fields such as computer security and criminal justice.
The university, which has 1,800 students enrolled at its Colorado Springs campus, tailored the new programs around the needs of law enforcement, the military, local governments and the private sector.
“After 9-11, we reinvestigated what we needed to do to meet the demands of employers,” said David Leasure, vice president of academic affairs at Colorado Tech. “We asked employers what kind of people will they be looking for, what skill sets are they going to need, where will the jobs be.”
The school found law enforcement agencies, firefighters and medical teams, called the “first-responders” to terrorism attacks, need their workers to have advanced technical skills to handle new demands.
In the event of a terrorist attack, for example, local agencies need to be able to communicate with each other and pass information to other federal and state law enforcement agencies.
“Information flow between police and firefighters and other first-responders is a critical element in homeland security,” said Eric Goodman, dean of management at Colorado Tech.
The university also found a need for computer security workers because companies, the military and local agencies fear cyber-attacks and other computer break-ins.