New Agents of Change Report: Career Connections

Career Climbers / 25th April 2022

SynED, a national non-profit focused on education, has released Agents of Change: San Diego Cyber Center of Excellencethe third in a series of reports that provide a roadmap on how individuals, organizations and communities address challenges in our education and workforce training systems and take action.

“This series provides a how-to guide on the critical components of successful innovations done at a local level and provides practitioners and policymakers alike useful insights and tools they can leverage to connect people to careers of their choice in their own communities,” said Scott Young, President and Executive Director, SynED.

Volume 3 of Agents of Change is centered on a highly successful industry accelerator in San Diego, CASan Diego Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE). When Congressional budget cuts for the U.S. Department of Defense were looming in 2013, local leaders sounded the alarm: About one-quarter of the entire San Diego region’s economy is dependent on the U.S. military. After being established in 2014, CCOE has not only shored up workforce and training in the regional cyber industry, they’ve made the entire region more cyber-secure and economically resilient.

“In this case, San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence went above and beyond a typical industry accelerator, strengthening the entire regional economy well beyond their primary sector, creating a model that we thought needed to be shared with a wide audience,” Young added.

This volume of Agents of Change reveals what makes San Diego CCOE successful, from their early grounding in high-quality data and analytics to their service-oriented outreach to local governments and small businesses outside the cyber sector.

An effective regional industry accelerator or consortium not only succeeds by addressing the acute problems identified by industry insiders, it creates new connections and an intertwining of the regional economy that benefits the entire economy.

“CCOE has been about not just education of talent, but education of companies as to why they should pay attention to cybersecurity,” Lisa Easterly, CCOE President & CEO, said.

“This isn’t always the case for other trade organizations,” the San Diego Regional EDC’s Mark Cafferty explained. “While trade organizations are founded to support growth in a given industry, some forget to ask the ever-important question, ‘In a connected innovation economy, how will this have impact across industries? How can San Diego disrupt this space?'”

San Diego CCOE was one of the first CCOEs in the country. Since their founding, they’ve helped newer CCOEs around the country with resources, knowledge and best practices to expand the reach of this model and improve cybersecurity across the United States.

San Diego’s cybersecurity influence stretches far beyond our region. One of CCOE’s founding members, ESET, is currently supporting Ukraine as they fend off Russian cyberattacks,” added Lisa Easterly. “Every day, San Diego’s cybersecurity industry is helping companies, governments and academia protect against cyber criminals and CCOE is honored to help ensure these organizations have the workforce and resources they need to create a more secure digital community for all.”

San Diego is now home to more than 870 cybersecurity firms, an astonishing number considering the initial 2014 study’s estimate of 102 companies. The cyber industry now accounts for more than 24,000 jobs—including 12,400 cybersecurity-specific roles—and has a total economic impact of $3.5 billion annually, up from $1.5 billion in 2014.

That San Diego CCOE has achieved a far greater impact – establishing a powerful economic engine in San Diego County while strengthening the cybersecurity posture of business and government across the region – is a testament to the forward-thinking leaders involved and their commitment to cross-sectoral collaboration.


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