When Portland-area teenagers spent part of a day learning about the importance of protecting sensitive data, little did they know the insights they gained would be echoed in prominent news headlines.
In late October, Multnomah County hosted a Career Day where 29 students from 10 high schools got to tinker with the innards of computers, learn about network security, and hear about related career opportunities and needed skills.
Less than two months later, a recent state audit found that cybersecurity weaknesses at state agencies are putting Oregonians’ sensitive data at risk.
Intruders hacked into several state agencies’ computer systems in recent years, with security breaches occurring at least three times in 2014 and 2015, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Federal law requires the state to keep certain types of information secure, such as tax, court and medical records.
However, the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, which is charged with leading this work, “has not yet provided sufficient standards and oversight to help agencies achieve appropriate information technology security,” state auditors wrote.
The audit findings are a great example of connecting real-life issues to what students are learning when they participate in Career Days with the Portland Workforce Alliance and our partners in business, government and education.
During the 2016-17 school year, Portland Public Schools students and others from metro-area school districts can choose from more than two dozen field trips to local employers, where they can tour facilities, meet with current employees and learn through hands-on activities.
These visits give students an opportunity to learn more about potential careers in tech, advertising, construction, healthcare, nonprofit work and many other sectors as part of a state-supported goal of expanding Career Technical Education in the public schools and improving Oregon’s high school graduation rate.
Jane Williams, technology learning manager at Multnomah County and a Portland Workforce Alliance board member, said the Multnomah County IT Career Day was a great opportunity for county employees to share their tech experience and know-how with the students – and to gain something in the process for themselves.
“I believe we are better in our own work when we can share our passions, expertise and the knowledge we have gained with others,” Williams said.
She said she saw “delight” on the face of every volunteer educator from the IT department, managers and staff alike, who shared their work on cybersecurity and other topics.
Students expressed their appreciation.
- “It really helped me understand more about what Multnomah County does. It actually makes me want to work here.” — Zenikaya W., Franklin High School
- “It was informative, hands-on and encouraged me to consider a job in government.” — Noah K., Wilson High School
- “I learned a lot about IT and how diverse a field it is.” — Ryan M., Grant High School
- “All of the presenters were very knowledgeable and kind. They did a good job of engaging us and educating us about their specific job.” — Lejla B., Cleveland High School