Tech Industry Learning Booms Amid COVID-19 Closures


COLLEGE PARK, MD —With spiraling unemployment under the economic pressure of the country’s near complete shutdown, and many higher education institutions closing their doors through the end of the spring to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one local cybersecurity and information technology (IT) training platform is seeing a surge in new students, a third of which are looking to switch careers after the coronavirus pandemic clears.

Cybrary, a cybersecurity and IT training platform, has seen their community double in just the last week, a third of its users appear to be completely new to the field, indicating Americans are look to use this time in self-isolation to re-train and change careers.

“I feel sensitive about saying this, that we just had our best month ever, and that we’re about to have our best month ever in April as well, because I appreciate that there are people out there that are not lucky enough to even have their jobs right now and I feel badly about that,” Ryan Corey, CEO and Co-Founder of Cybrary told 104.7 WONK FM’s Jen Richer.

According to Corey, Cybrary would see about 10,000 new registered users a week, but last week, the first full week for many localities under a stay-at-home order, the platform saw that number double with nearly 21,000 new registered users to the community.

“Cybrary has 2.7 million users, and on average saw about 2,000 new users a day, but in the last few weeks while the country is virtually in lockdown, Cybrary is seeing a surge in usage, “ Corey said. “We had our biggest week ever last week.”

A third of those new users are looking to switch their careers to the IT and cybersecurity field.

“30 percent of our users have no experience and they are looking to get into the space. The remainder of our users fall into three buckets, ‘I’m in cybersecurity and I want to get better at what I do,’ two, ‘I’m an IT person and I want to know what I can get better in my IT role to help make my organization more secure,’ and third, ‘I’m in traditional IT and I want to go from SisAdmin into cybersecurity,’” Corey described.

Virtual learning institutions have been able to thrive under the pandemic, whereas the transition to the online learning model for a traditional brick-and-mortar higher learning institution has been a challenge.

“When this thing started, I was like okay, what’s going to happen to the education market. Then I started reading a lot about how the education market is probably in bad shape. [Then] I realized they were talking about the face-to-face education market…and I was watching our [Cybrary user] statistics and user based growth and the usage growth just go crazy…and then I realized this is not going to apply to ..the online education market,” Corey said.

Even before the pandemic, the cybersecurity and IT fields are growing faster than they can hire the skilled professionals they need. Among the reasons those jobs go unfilled is the initial expense for education, and then the continuous need to upskill.

“The options for getting into [cybersecurity workforce] before were like go pay SANS [Institute] $8,000 dollars for a one week class, which wouldn’t leave you job ready, or go pay an online university for $50,000 dollars for a cybersecurity degree that sets you and your family back and also doesn’t leave you ready to work in the space,” Corey said.

Those barriers to entry inspired Corey to launch Cybrary.

“This [situation] was super problematic and that’s why we started [Cybrary]. We wanted to make this thing that all the industry practitioners could contribute to and that anybody could … at least experience a little bit of it virtually free,” Corey said.

By lowering the cost of education, he hopes to close the industry gap between potential employees and the unfilled jobs in the cybersecurity and IT field.

“The name came from cyber and library, and we started the company because there were too few people getting into the space, and of course you hear the skills gap or the talent gap everywhere…the 3 or 4 million unfilled jobs that are out there. But then also people that are in the space weren’t skilling up on a regular basis and that did not align with the way that cybersecurity moves. It’s a super fast market, super fast industry, and the tech and the tactics ..change daily, and so we wanted something where we could remove the friction of people getting into it,” Corey said.

The company has recruited over 2,000 contributors from the technology sector, specializing in cybersecurity, IT, cloud, data science, and DevOps to constantly update their catalogue of skills.

“It’s got the industry’s best practitioners in there, and the users join this creator network that we have of about 2,000 subject matter experts that are creating the majority of the content, so it’s now a machine that pumps out a lot of content to keep people up to skill in cybersecurity at the pace of change in the industry,” Corey said.

Listen to the full interview here:

Jen Richer with Cybrary

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