Slaght is a firm believer that internships and apprenticeships are the way to meet this demand by providing a clear pathway from high schools and community colleges to cybersecurity jobs. The CCOE’s Internship and Apprenticeship Pipeline and Link2Cyber programs connect students and recent graduates with career opportunities in the region.
The CCOE is working to create what Slaght calls cyber’s “blue collar workforce,” or a new class of employees who are working secure, high-paying jobs that do not require college degrees.
“We found bright kids coming out of high school who can get a few certifications for networks and land a $65,000-$80,000 job,” Slaght said. “We really want to create a template for how to approach this moving forward.”
Slaght entered the cybersecurity field after a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy, where he retired as a Rear Admiral and served as commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Command Systems and the USS Flint.
After retiring from the Navy, he served as Vice President of General Dynamics Information Technology. He holds a master’s degree in Computer Systems from the Naval Postgraduate School and spent 15 years acquiring and providing IT solutions to the Navy.
While the CCOE is working to increase the number of cyber graduates in the San Diego region, it’s also trying to attract more cyber employers to the area by creating an environment that’s conducive to existing companies and entrepreneurs alike. Those companies can become thought leaders in the region and take advantage of the high quality of life San Diego offers, Slaght said.
San Diego is home to Navy and Marine Corps bases, and Slaght sees veterans on those bases as one untapped constituent group to help fill the cybersecurity career pipeline. Slaght has been involved with efforts to transition veterans from the military into the private sector.
“Veterans are a huge potential source for the cyber workforce,” Slaght said. “We are working to ensure that they military producing the right number and the right kind of veterans to fill these open positions.”
Sentek Global CEO Eric Basu is a founding member of CCOE’s board and said Slaght’s leadership helped streamline a frenetic environment and align multiple stakeholders around a single vision.
“RADM (ret) Slaght literally forged order out of chaos, bringing all of the cyber security players in San Diego together for the first time,” Basu said. “The CCOE has been one of the most successful industry organizations in San Diego, running on an extremely lean administrative budget for four years.”
Jim Skeen, Founder | Partner of Lockton San Diego and another CCOE founding board member and said Slaght’s leadership helped form productive relationships with education and industry partners.
“His professional credentials and collaborative nature were and remain key to CCOE being accepted as cyber’s connective tissue delivering a community asset,” Skeen said.
Looking to the future, Slaght hopes to see cybersecurity education take an even more significant role in the K-12 curriculum.
“Everyone should have a second language, and I would offer that the second language should be coding,” Slaght said. “C++ and other skills are going to become essential moving forward, not just for cybersecurity jobs, but for nearly any type of career path a student wants to take.”
To learn more about the CCOE, visit sdccoe.org.