Yves Salomon-Fernandez

Yves Salomon-Fernandez/Tony Dreyfus: A drawback of math emphasis

Via the New England  Journal of Higher Education (NEJHE), part of the New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe.org)

In June 2015, we argued in a NEJHE article “Reducing Math Obstacles to Higher Education,” that intensified efforts to improve math education may make sense for many students, but for other students–those who lack ability or interest in math–the prescription of more math limits their ability to attain a college credential. As a result, heightened math requirements can limit some students’ employment options and play a counter-produc­tive role in helping this segment of students achieve full participation in the economy.

Such students would benefit more from an educational program with reduced emphasis on traditional math. They could better spend more time on other studies that would help them develop themselves toward successes in further education and careers. All students, including those with little ability or interest in math, should have access to higher education and a college credential that will help them develop the abilities they will need as workers and citizens in a complex society.

In the current article, we focus more on economic issues. Public discussion today focuses greatly on the relationships among economic inequality, education and technological change. But understanding in this area suffers from assumptions about the value of math education for gaining useful skills when work opportunities and skill demands are so varied. With this article, we hope to stimulate research, debate and experimenta­tion that could create new understandings and models to build the flexible programs we need to move closer to full economic participation and economic independence.

As our work has proceeded, a new book has greatly encouraged us: The Math Myth, And Other STEM Delusions by eminent political scientist Andrew Hacker (The New Press, March 2016). Hacker has written extensively about race, gender and income inequality, and with his wife Claudia Dreifus, authored the 2011 book Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It. Many of Hacker’s points in The Math Myth dovetail closely with ours; he also provides much useful insight into how misleading arguments for more math education have exaggerated the benefits of current approaches to math and allied fields. We hope the publication of The Math Myth will contribute to the goal we hold of reducing math barriers to higher education and good jobs.

Technological progress and the need for math

Education beyond high school is becoming increasingly necessary for entry into the better-paid and more secure sectors of the job market. (Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute provides substantial evidence on the income benefits of college in “Higher Education Earnings Premium: Value, Variation, and Trends,” Feb. 24, 2014.) In so many vocations and careers, math plays little or no role, but higher educa­tion is required. As a result, math-based barriers to higher education block people from education toward careers in which they could prosper and contribute more to the nation. We all should have access to such education whether or not we are good at math.

The 20th-Century experience showed how new technology could gain millions of users without demanding users’ expertise. If mechanized factories, the automobile, the telephone and the computer were to spread, some people had to master new knowledge and skills. But most people did not need to learn how to run an assembly line, repair a car engine or design the circuits inside a telephone or personal computer. The creation of technology requires scientists and engineers and its use demands technicians, operators and repair people. As a result, any member of our technology-dependent society inevitably relies on people with mathematical, scientific and engineering skills.

We need these technically and mathematically trained people—yes, many of them. But we do not allneed higher math to contribute in the workplace; for a large number of jobs, higher math skills do not play any significant role.

One argument for sustained universal math education is that tech­nological progress and global competition demand greater science and math skill. Such concerns can be seen in government reports such as “STEM Education: Preparing for the Jobs of the Future,” (from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, April 2012) or “Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education 5-Year Strategic Plan” (from the National Science and Technology Council, May 2013). While this argument partly springs from concerns that American companies face shortages in STEM skills that weaken their competitiveness, another concern is that workers without skills in science and math will suffer limited access to well-paid jobs. Those without science and math skills will, in this view, be denied access to the “new economy.” But this argument disregards key realities of the modern highly specialized economy. Technological and economic change increases math skill demands only for some workers, while leaving math skill demands unchanged or even reduced for others. In an economy with so much specialization of skill and inequality of opportunity, investment in math is a winning bet for some and a losing proposition for others.

In school, home and workplace, powerful math technology is included in handheld graphing calculators, in the most common spreadsheet software and in computer algebra and statistical systems. Such technology is also embedded in countless other programs and devices. What are the implications for math skill demands in the workplace and for what high school and college students should learn? As such technology spreads, who benefits from gaining greater math skills?

Those who head into industries focused on science and engineering may gain important advantages through math skill. The construction engineer may have skills and advantages over the road-building project manager who, in turn, probably has advantages over someone who lays asphalt or pours concrete. Managers and designers of all types—mechanical, electronic and financial—receive benefits from their greater skills.

But even in such technology-dependent industries, large numbers of jobs do not depend at all on math skill. The driver, the call-center worker, the bank teller or the salesperson relies on the math that they need being baked in to their equipment, so that machines operate safely, so that software gets the customer info to the right file, so that the deposit is added and the interest figured. To be sure, such tasks may still require human intelligence, for example, to evaluate the appropriateness of a transaction, to maintain good will with a customer, to recognize exceptional conditions that might cause danger and so forth. Powers of mathematical estimation and arithmetic could play a role.

Indeed, much of our efforts in design of equipment, software, jobs and larger systems are intended to protect operations from the human errors of the operators. Whether or not we like this development, the proportion of people who need to fully understand the mathematical principles or operations of their work is reduced. Perhaps a positive aspect is that more human energy can be devoted to human contact with customers and co-workers. (Andrew Hacker, in Chapter 4 of Math Myths, emphasizes that many people in scientific or technical jobs that require mathematical training, including physicians, engineers and actuaries, often do not draw on that training in any meaningful way.)

More detailed analysis of the experiences of students and of workers in STEM and other fields suggests that the supposed shortage of STEM skills has been exaggerated. Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn and B. Lindsay Lowell, in “Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market” (Economic Policy Institute, April 24, 2013), point out that only 5% of U.S. workforce jobs can be classified as STEM employment. And large proportions of graduates in STEM subjects, as much as half, do not end up working in their fields. (The low percentage of jobs in STEM fields does not include jobs in health.)

The “bad equilibrium” of weak high schools and economic inequality

Even as recent high school graduates wonder whether the cost of college is worth it, salary data continue to show that those with a college credential earn on average much more over a lifetime compared to those without. In fact, the job market in many areas of the country is less welcoming than it once was to people without any college experience. Many employers are increasingly using the college degree as they once used a high school diploma, as a screen to focus on potential employees for jobs at middle-skill levels that in the past were more often filled by people without college degrees. (A September 2014 report by Burning Glass Technologies, “Moving the Goalposts: How Demand for a Bachelor’s Degree Is Reshaping the Workforce,” includes detailed data on different job areas in which a bachelor’s degree is increasingly required.) Meanwhile, college-going rates across the country are at an all-time high, but income inequality continues to grow.

A full understanding of our rising economic inequality would help guide us to strategies toward greater equality. But this inequality is so multifaceted, affecting our society so deeply, that it remains hard to grasp. One key part of this “bad equilibrium” is the sorting of students by the educational system. Math plays a central role in this sorting by which different students are encouraged to pursue or are blocked from pursuing different amounts and levels of education. A second key part of the bad equilibrium is the reinforcing cycles of low wages and low skills.

For "first-generation" college students and students from low-income families, entry into college involves overcoming many obstacles, including a college environment that may be unfamiliar in many ways. As we pointed out in the prior article, math requirements serve as an effective barrier to entry into college and thus limit the potential for many to move to a higher income level with more marketable skills. Weakness in math should not exclude anyone from entry or success in the colleges that can develop these skills and to certify with diplomas that students have them. Yes, study of math can help develop some of these desired skills, especially tenacity in problem-solving, but many paths can help build this tenacity. All students deserve productive paths to develop the skills they need for employment, including mental discipline and problem-solving skills.

Adopting educational approaches that lead to full economic participation

Breaking this negative cycle of unequal opportunity will require many changes—in schools and across many of our social and economic institutions. Is wholesale change possible? We think so. But our country needs profound educational progress, so we can meet the many challenges emerging from rapid economic, technological and environmental change. We are proposing that the K-12 and higher education sectors take a long-term view in addressing existing exclusionary college-entry policies that discourage students who are weak in math from making long-term choices that will help them contribute to the economy at their full potential, generate personal wealth and earn income sufficient for financial independence.

Data on income inequality and wealth gaps point to interactions between race and ethnicity and individual and family wealth. In a 2015 report from Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy called “The Racial Wealth Gap, Why Policy Matters,” Laura Sullivan and her co-authors show how changes in housing and educational policy could reduce the large racial and ethnic gaps in family wealth. We take the position that our educational policies and systems should reduce, certainly not worsen, the social conditions that limit economic mobility for marginalized populations, especially for students of color. In recent years, those populations have suffered significant setbacks. According to Rakesh Kochhar and Richard Fry writing for the Pew Research Center in December 2014, wealth inequality has grown along racial and ethnic lines since the Great Recession; the median wealth of non-Hispanic black households and of Hispanic households fell between 2010 and 2013 and neither group has experienced significant improvements since.

This link between race and income inequality is particularly concerning as demographers are predicting that minority groups will rise to over half of the total population by mid-century. As Sandra L. Colby and Jennifer M. Ortman described in their March 2015 Census report “Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060, Population Estimates and Projections,” "no group will have a majority share of the total and the United States will become a 'plurality' of racial and ethnic groups." We will all be depending on a more multi-colored workforce and need to develop schools, workplaces and policies that help us “pull together” in the context of a competitive global economy.

In an economy where education matters ever more, it becomes both a social and economic imperative that we provide education that works for students of all backgrounds. Our economic success depends upon learning how to make the path through school and the path from school to work successful for alltypes of students. Both the K-12 and higher education sectors can play active roles in disrupting the pattern of low skills and low wages. Reforming the roles of the K-12 and higher education systems will require many changes in our society as they are critical gate-keepers that determine who gets a shot at earning the credentials that can lead to individual economic prosperity.

Ideas for change

In “Reducing Math Obstacles to Higher Education,” ­­we advocated new thinking about how to build a more flexible educational system of greater access and equality that students need. We called for K-16 collaboration toward solutions to the problem of math as a barrier to higher education and use of empirical data to measure the magnitude of the problem, especially for vulnerable populations. We now add some ideas for change that we think are needed.

  • High schools should take a variety of steps to bring their programs more in line with the intellectual, personal and economic interests of their students. As we explained in the prior article, the third and fourth years of high school math are unproductive for many students who do poorly in math and have educational and career interests that do not benefit much from math. For some students, such steps might include less time studying math in the final two years of high school and more time on other subjects in which they can envision a career.
  • At the same time, high schools should innovate in other ways to make their program more engaging and useful. As we noted in the earlier NEJHE piece, high schools should expand their mission to include strong programs in arts and social sciences that appeal to the expressive and social interests of adolescents, that develop a rich variety of skills and intelligences, and provide more knowl­edge about the adult world and the many fields of study available in college. High schools should also move the science program to a greater focus on biology and the applied disciplines of health, nutrition, environmental and earth sciences.
  • To give high schools and high school students more flexibility in designing their curricula to meet student needs and interests, colleges should eliminate admission requirements of three or four years of high school math for those students not pursuing STEM degrees. Colleges should also eliminate general college graduation requirements that all students pass a math course at the same level regardless of their major and instead establish major requirements for math with renewed attention on what math is actually needed by the majority of the majors—much in many fields, less in others.

We advocate this reduction in math requirements, not because we want to “dumb down” education in the sense of making it easier and less useful. Instead, we think it is the fundamental duty of the educational community to make the invaluable benefits of skill and knowledge available to the widest possible proportion of students. We must challenge all our preconcep­tions about what is required to learn. Is calculus really needed for people to prepare for careers in medicine and other health professions? What math do accountants and coders really need to do their work? How much physics can one learn without calculus? How much chemistry can one learn without algebra? Progress on many questions such as these may open doors to many students who currently are excluded from knowledge and skills that can make their education more engaging, their citizenship more responsible, their work life more rewarding and their contribution to society more complete.

Some will object that reducing math requirements means “closing doors” or locking certain students into a disadvantaged class of people with a weak education. This concern appears well-intentioned, but we think misses the bigger picture and closes off opportunities for positive change.

The bigger picture is that our system today–with its single high school path of uniform requirements for all students in a world of highly unequal resources–is effectively closing doors of opportunity for millions of students. Those attending strong high schools, good colleges and established graduate programs have diverse opportunities and salaries far higher than those who attend weak high schools and get little or no college education.

We need schools that come much closer to engaging the interests, desires and ambitions of students, to help people learn what they really can use in their intellectual development and in their work lives. Real economic opportunity demands a deep redesign of school programs. We hope to see some of this deep change in the next decades.

Sustained open doors

We focus on just two aspects of new directions that would complement reduced math requirements in order to improve access and effectiveness of higher education. The first aspect is “sustained open doors,” a strategy that responds directly to the concern about reduced math requirements limiting opportunities for students.

Inevitably, all students do not find motivation, ability and resources available together to support hard work at school. Hence we see early bloomers and late bloomers, school aces and strugglers, rich kids and poor kids. Many students lack the financial and family resources to continue their education into adulthood without interruption.

Yet long educational paths, as much as 20 years total, can pay off far better than short paths ending without any college. Our society must make special efforts to keep doors to education open over students’ lives so that hopes for equal economic opportunity remain real. The students who fail to take advantage of high school for diverse reasons deserve meaningful second chances. Many other students would also do well to leave school after high school or two years of college and to experience the world of work. All these students should later find welcoming opportunities to return to school, with full chances to learn whatever can further their intellectual and economic growth.

For example, someone wanting at age 25 or 30 to enter a field that requires more science or math should be able to study for a year or two and then rejoin a path of a more advanced education. As education for newly created careers becomes more necessary, such re-entries into math and other fields will become needed at various ages of life.

Intellectual focus, personal direction and connection to work

A second aspect of a more just and effective system of education would restructure the last two years of high school and first two years of college to better foster intellectual development, personal direction and engagement with the world of work.

We look at the education of students ages 16 to 21 as one continuum that is ripe for coordinated and systemic reform. Consider this span of education in three two-year periods: the last two years of high school (grades 11 and 12); the two years of community college or the first two years of four-year college (grades 13 and 14); and the last two years of four-year college (grades 15 and 16).

In each of these three two-year periods, students should be encouraged to make choices: to focus their studies for intellectual development and to learn about related careers and work skills. In grades 11 and 12, the degree of focus might be modest, e.g. having students choose one of several major areas for additional study such as science and math, the arts, history and society, or languages. Some focus such as this is common in European high schools for students of this age.

Students planning to finish or pause their education after high school or after only two years of college should have ample opportunities to gain work-related knowledge and skills through courses, internships and apprenticeships. But even those students planning on four-year college should be encouraged to choose a broad focus area and to include in their studies some work-related learning.

Similarly, a two-year college program or even the first two years of a four-year college could include a modest concentration in one subject area, like a minor in a subject such as science, language or history. Such a two-year concentration would help students gain more experience with choice about their academic and vocational lives. Students entering the last two years of college might choose a major related to or different from their focus from the first two years of college. But the earlier experiences of focus and connection to work could make the last half of the college career much more useful.

* * *

Our preference for less focus on math is rooted in the fact that the prevailing math curriculum is blocking many students from completing high school, getting to college or completing college. Those who are least successful in math need more education, not less, that will help prepare them for better jobs and better lives. Our goal should be to offer an education of equal value to all young people—not the same goals for all, which wind up creating much opportunity for some and much less for others. These students less able or less interested in math have a fully equal right to a college education and to the wide opportunities for personal and economic growth that college can bring.

Tony Dreyfus taught math at Brookline High School outside Boston. He also worked with the public school systems in Chelsea, Revere and Everett, Mass., in support of elementary math improvement efforts through math coaches. His college studies in economics and master’s degree in city planning with a focus on regional economics included extended study of statistics and economic modeling.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez is interim president of Massachusetts Bay Community College. She is the incoming president of Cumberland County College in New Jersey. She holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a doctorate in education statistics from Boston College.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez: Obama college plan in Mass.


President Obama started off the year with a proposal to make a community college education as “universal” as high school by making the associate degree or first two years of a bachelor’s degree tuition-free. The details of how this would be funded are still emerging. Should the proposal successfully move through Congress, Massachusetts, for one, stands to gain much from it. Here’s why:

  1. Community colleges prepare students for “middle-skills” jobs. New England’s available pool of middle-skills workers has been historically low and continues to decline, as documented recently by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Coupled with declining high school enrollments and a projected 15 percent reduction in the region’s labor force by 2020 due primarily to retirements, an increase in middle-skills talent would help employers in our knowledge-driven economy fill open positions.
  1. Since the Boston Foundation report in 2011 that highlighted the low graduation rate of the state’s community colleges—a report that precipitated the community college reform passed by the Massachusetts legislature that established performance across multiple metrics as funding criteria—there has been little evidence that outcomes of community college students have significantly increased. Nationally, the Gates Foundation, and locally the Boston Fed, have documented the barriers to completion and transfer for community college students. Not surprisingly, they are largely economic with students balancing work and family obligations.
  1. The Obama proposal would positively affect the taxpayer base in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Moving the traditional community college students into a higher income level has the potential of increasing the tax base for the state and reducing existing or potential burden on government.

For the president’s proposal to work, there will have to be some accountability and alignment of policies at both the federal and state levels. Accountability should vary by state. Massachusetts is not Tennessee, Utah, California or Florida. There are significant variations among states in how community colleges are funded, how they are structured, how well they are aligned with business and industry, and how well integrated they are within the state’s public higher education system.

For the proposal to work, necessary provisions will have to be made to current welfare policies. Current policies do not always favor students returning to school, especially single mothers. The existing research shows that in households where the mother holds a college degree, children are more likely to attend and succeed in college.

A uniform proposal at the federal level that does not reduce benefits for students receiving public assistance as they increase their income because of their college attendance would also need to be in place to maximize returns on this $60 billion investment over the next decade for current taxpayers who will be footing the bill. Appropriate policies at the state and federal levels that encourage long-term economic independence and reduce the burden on government should accompany the free community college proposal.

On average, the community college population represents a vulnerable segment of students. Thus, their upward movement on the socioeconomic ladder on a large scale will strengthen the country’s overall competitiveness and reduce costs for the public in the long-run. The tuition-free proposal’s success will depend on community colleges being able to improve outcomes for students—meaning completion or transfer into a bachelor’s degree program and job placement.

To maximize outcomes for regional industry under this proposal, local businesses, policymakers and colleges will need to be intentional about working together. Increases in community college graduates may not automatically translate into increases in the available talent pool for local businesses. At the end of last year, a joint study published by Accenture, Burning Glass and Harvard University advocated taking a supply-chain approach to closing the middle-skills gap in Massachusetts.

Its basic premise was that the middle-skills problem needs to be viewed from an economic competitiveness perspective. Among its recommendations was that policymakers and higher-education administrators act as facilitators for greater collaboration between businesses and community colleges. Intentional and effective public-private partnerships can maximize the returns for states should the president’s proposal move forward.

The president’s proposal is not as radical as it may appear to those outside higher education. Subsidizing higher education costs for students is rampant among private colleges and universities under the practice known as “tuition-discounting.” A 2006 study by the College Board found that private colleges and universities included in its sample discounted as much as 33 percent of their tuition to attract students. These took the form of need-based as well as non-need-based aid. While most tuition discounts are used as a means to provide access to students who would otherwise not be able to attend those schools, those students are not the sole recipients. Tuition discounts are also extended to students whose family incomes indicate that they can afford the full price of tuition and fees.

A more recent study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers in 2013 found that 88 percent of freshmen received an institutional grant or discount during the 2012-13 academic year, with the average grant covering over 50 percent of tuition and fees. These discounts come at a financial loss to the institution.

The details of the president’s proposal have yet to emerge, but the concept itself holds much promise for the country. As many have already pointed out, it would not solve the student loan crisis, but it would significantly slow it down and reduce the magnitude of its scale for students who opt to start at a community college and major in the fields targeted by the president’s proposal, since tuition and fees at community colleges tend to be a fraction of most colleges and universities. A community college education presents value for both low-income and middle-income students and families.

In Massachusetts, for example, a student who completes a bachelor’s degree through the community college to a state university or University of Massachusetts pathway can complete a degree for as little as $30,000, compared with the state median of $120,000 for a bachelor’s degree. With community colleges enrolling 36 percent  of the state’s high school graduates and nine out of 10 of those graduates remaining in the state, an investment in community college completion can ensure that local business can fill jobs that do not require an advanced degree and keep those jobs here rather than moving to other states or offshore.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez is vice president for strategic planning at MassBay Community College and campus executive officer for its Framingham location. This originated on the Web site of the New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe.org).



Yves Salomon-Fernandez: Cyber-security: Big N.E. jobs-growth potential


Editor's note: This piece was written before the most recent huge cyber-security breach -- at Sony.

Within the information-technology sector, cyber-security is considered its own super sector. As information becomes increasingly digitized and a growing array of transactions can be completed in the cloud, individuals, governments and enterprises become increasingly more vulnerable.


This vulnerability is capitalized upon by hackers and other cybercriminals, as evidenced in the high-profile breaches at the U.S. Postal Service, Target/TJX, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, the Internal Revenue Service —to name a few. Others not reported in the media range from insurance and retirement companies to higher education institutions and government agencies.

While computer users are much easier and more lucrative targets, the increasing ease of conducting transactions via mobile devices has also led to a proliferation of mobile-based attacks.

The (ITRC) reports nearly 5,000 breaches between 2005 and 2014, more than a quarter of which were caused by hacking, that is, unauthorized individuals penetrating a computer network generally with the intent of obtaining information or disrupting the network.


Breaches by Sector, 2005-14

Total breaches 4,794
Total number of records breached 641,037,690
Business 55.6%
Banking/Credit/Financial 36.1%
Medical/Healthcare 24.8%
Educational 15.9%
Government/Military 15.6%

Source: Taking a Strategic Approach to Closing the Cyber Gap


Data breaches are very costly for businesses. Citing the security firm Symantec, a recent article in The Economist estimated the annual global cost of cybercrimes to be $113 billion, with the number of victims standing at 378 million. Not surprisingly, the U.S. ranks first in the cost of data breaches around the world.

Locally, New England’s economic reliance on the financial services, high-technology, education and health-services sectors—and its significant array of businesses engaged in research and development involving intellectual property and personally identifiable information—make cyber-security a field that warrants a strategic and coordinated approach to close the middle-skills gap.


The available pool of qualified cyber-security professionals is insufficient to meet current workforce demand. With an expected reduction in the New England labor force by 2020, this talent shortage is a prime area for taking a supply-chain approach to resolving.

Closing the gap in cybersecurity should be conceptualized through a continuum that includes advancement from certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees, and moving onto graduate school credentials. It should also engage employers in identifying the technical competencies, soft skills, as well as industry-specific knowledge and continuing education that potential cyber-security employees need to succeed in entry-level jobs and beyond.


Engagement of high school students—digital natives—while still in high school would also help provide early exposure and garner interest in the field.TripWire’s Cybersecurity LifeJourney Experience provides a good “test drive” of cybersecurity careers.

Quantifying the demand for cybersecurity talent

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that cyber-related jobs will grow by 37 percent through 2020. According to a report released earlier this month by Burning Glass, a company that tracks job postings among other services, between 2007 and 2013, cyber-security jobs grew by 74 percent —a growth rate that is more than twice all information-technology jobs. According to the “Job Market Intelligence: Report on the Growth of Cyber Security Jobs,” demand for cyber-security talent by far outpaces supply. On average, it took 24 percent more time to fill cybersecurity-specific jobs compared with other IT positions and 36 percent more time compared with all other jobs.

With 7,107 openings in 2013, Massachusetts ranks ninth in terms of total cyber-security jobs. Between 2007 and 2013, Boston  had  an 87 percent job growth rate in cyber-security, based on data published in the report. The Greater Boston area ranks seventh in total number of job postings (6,336). Washington, D.C., and New York lead the country as the top two cities for jobs in cyber-security.

New England’s call to action

Earlier this month, Mass Insight and its Advanced Cyber Security Center announced the creation of the New England Cyber-Security Research Consortium. While few details have been released on the consortium, its focus will be on research and collaboration among higher education institutions with research capacity and industry.


Although research and the innovation economy are critical to the region, in this instance, filling the middle-skills gap in cyber-security is equally critical to the region’s economic vitality and continued competitiveness of the key sectors that underpin the New England economy. In the public higher-education sector, we see MassBay Community College, Middlesex Community College, and the University of Massachusetts taking the lead in developing academic programs that can train people for these jobs and begin to close the labor gap.

Cybersecurity jobs provide a ladder for workers going from entry-level security analysts to engineers, auditors, testers, administrators and architects. Filling this range of positions calls for collaboration among community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, industry and policymakers. These jobs have the potential to financially sustain digital natives, the short- and long-term unemployed looking to acquire the skills to help them rejoin the job market.


Cyber-security is a prime area for public- and private-sector collaborations with higher education because those jobs hold high value to businesses. For the workforce, they hold a high career lifetime value and provide ladders for advancement.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez is vice president for strategic planning, institutional effectiveness and grants development at MassBay Community College and executive officer of MassBay’s Framingham Campus. This originated at The New England Journal of Higher Education,  a service of the New England Board of Higher Education.