U.S Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has announced a new cybersecurity apprenticeship program with Purdue.

Acosta met with several students Tuesday morning in the Purdue Polytechnic school who demonstrated kits they use to retrieve data from devices.

Acosta talked with the students about why they got involved with cybersecurity and what they've learned in their classes.

Afterward, a roundtable was led by Geanie Umberger, the associate dean for engagement including individuals from various companies and several students.

Acosta said the Department of Labor will invest $12 million for 5,000 individuals to go through the new cybersecurity apprenticeship over the next 40 years.

According to Acosta, the average wage upon completion of an apprenticeship program is $70,000. He said that while apprenticeships are common in the building trades, he wants to expand to all areas.

Purdue was selected after applying for a national grant, and according to Purdue Polytechnic Institute Dean Gary Bertoline, the program will likely begin in the next six months.

Bertoline said a handful of companies have agreed to participate right now, including Raytheon and Fastport, and Purdue will try to partner with other Indiana cybersecurity companies.

The program will partner with Purdue University Global to aid nontraditional students in gaining skills necessary for working in the cybersecurity industry.

“It's not like the traditional student,” Umberger said. “You're in the employer’s workplace, working, doing day-to-day jobs and then periodically taking time to go through and just sit in these classes and to learn."

Bertoline said the program is even more flexible, and participants can decide how far they want to go with their education.

“You don't have to get a bachelor's degree, you can actually enter and exit whenever you want,” he said.

Umberger talked about the importance of having more workers in the field of cybersecurity.

“We hear almost daily, sadly, about the hacking that happens … with the government and so forth,” she said, “and we need more professionals out there in this space.”

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