GOOSE ISLAND — Students at the City Colleges of Chicago will be trained to defend computers from hackers in a first-of-its-kind partnership announced Wednesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and federal officials.
Emanuel has proposed using $1 million from the pot of money left unclaimed by the city's tax rebate effort to launch the pilot program in cyber security training, which he predicted would continue even after President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday.
"It won't be a drive by," Emanuel said at a event at UI Labs in Goose Island. "The need is permanent, and it is a national need."
Emanuel said the infiltration of Democratic Party computers by hackers who federal officials said were Russian agents looking to embarrass presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and frequent news of companies' information systems being compromised — makes the need for a highly skilled workforce clear.
Once they complete the boot camp program at Wilbur Wright City College in Dunning, which offers the City Colleges' information technology classes, Chicago students will be first in line to claim one of the tens of thousands of cyber security jobs that offer starting salaries of $80,000, Emanuel said.
"There are endless help wanted signs," Emanuel said. "Jobs as far as the eye can see."
Frank DiGiovanni, the director of force training at the Department of Defense, praised the city's effort as a "bold, necessary step" that will bolster the national security of the United States.
DiGiovanni said he hoped the test of the program in Chicago would serve as a model for it to expand to other parts of the country.
The federal government will contribute $500,000 to the program, officials said.
Having a highly trained cyber security workforce will entice companies to relocate to Chicago, and boost the city's economy, Emanuel said.
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