Career Path: Getting Ahead of the Curve with Lifelong Affinity Education

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

In my last blog entry, I conveyed my vision for a lifelong affinity education model—one where institutes of higher learning serve as local hubs, offering a range of programming to engage populations at virtually every phase of the life cycle. At the University of South Florida, there is already infrastructure toward this end—even as there is unlimited potential for future development. In the Information Age, such a concept is a benefit to society. We want you to find something compelling here—whether your age is five or 85.


Lifelong Affinity Education Begins Early

The intentional sequence of this type of education model is to make early connections with the younger end of the age spectrum. This is why I applaud the important work of the Florida Center of Instructional Technology (FCIT), a unit that provides professional learning, digital content, and technology integration services—primarily for K-12 students, teachers, and schools. FCIT, like Corporate Training and Professional Education (CTPE), prides itself on delivering expertly taught, high-quality content while utilizing cutting-edge technology.


One of the timelier programs—and a collaborative effort of FCIT and CTPE—is a series of online cybersecurity summer camps designed for primary- and secondary-school students. Such a program generates awareness and gives young people early exposure to a critical field. This is an industry that is terribly understaffed. At the present, there are 600,000 cybersecurity jobs available across the nation—and 30,000 of them are in Florida. The aim is to create awareness and generate interest in an area of need—possibly opening doors to a promising future.


I recently spoke with FCIT’s Director, James Welsh, PhD. He further elaborated on the potential impact of the program.


“Basic cyber citizenship is important for everyone—something approached responsibly, with safety,” he said. “All sectors of our nation need to understand this. Cybercrime is a pervasive security threat to business and government. It’s important that young people see cybersecurity as a possible career. These are viable, well-paying jobs, and we have to do more and recruit better.”


Lifelong Affinity Education Complements Existing Curricula

Cybersecurity courses geared for youth is the type of training that ideally fits the objective of a lifelong affinity education model. This programming does not stand in opposition to traditional school curricula. It functions to augment them, but we also want to shine light on alternative trajectories that may not be emphasized in the conventional classroom. We want to give young people an opportunity to get ahead of the curve. Our programs can supplement their overall education and prepare them for a fast-paced, competitive world.