If you are looking for a job as an IT security professional and live in the Ottawa area, Willis College should be one of your first stops. The educational institution has partnered with Fortinet to give students the necessary skills to find a job in the growing field of network security.
The partnership was launched in 2010, when Ed Isaacs, director, TAC Americas, Fortinet, attended a job fair for Willis College graduates. Isaacs was so impressed with the school’s graduates that his company interviewed and hired two of them on the spot. After that, Fortinet representatives attended all of Willis College’s job fairs, and more alumni were hired.
Isaacs also brought Michael Anderson, VP, global services and support, Fortinet, to the college. Anderson offered Willis College equipment, coaching and training to enable the school to provide Fortinet certifications to students. Fortinet’s contribution led to the creation of the current Network Security program.
The partnership between Fortinet and Willis College has attracted high praise. In December 2013, Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney spoke at the college at an event recognizing private sector investment in Canada’s career colleges. “I’m excited to see that you’re moving forward into new frontiers that are really relevant to the economy of the future, thanks in part to Fortinet and the investment that they are announcing today,” he said. “It’s so fantastic to see a private-sector partnership between a cutting-edge employer and a successful private career college, solving problems, taking Canadians who are unemployed or underemployed, providing them with relevant skills training in a timely way that leads directly to a first-rate job. That, I think, is just about as good as it gets.”
Three years after Fortinet representatives attended the job fair at Willis College, the company approached the school once more about filling its hiring needs. This time, the company needed employees with more advanced networking skills. The network security solutions provider brought executives to Ottawa to meet with Willis College administrators to create a new academic program: the Cyber Security Professional course. It is currently in the approval process by the Canadian government.
The Network Security Program is taught by qualified instructors. It features a combination of lectures and practical, hands-on experience at Fortinet’s exclusive lab with the company’s equipment. Willis College limits the class size to 20 students. Students in the Network Security Programs have the flexibility to take classes during the day or evening. Also, the 48 week-long course is offered four times a year.
Willis College offers a career-focused approach to education. Therefore, classes are four hours long, allowing qualified students to work at Fortinet through its paid internship program. They also have the option of working at other companies in the network security field.
Two months before students complete the program, Fortinet conducts interviews. The program ends on a Friday, and if students are hired, they start working on Monday. A number of other companies hire Fortinet graduates as well. Willis College administrators note that there are more employers offering jobs than there are students to accept them.
“The Fortinet partnership is the most amazing experience in Willis College’s 118 year history,” said Rima Aristocrat, president and CEO, Willis College. “They are flexible, approachable and fully committed to an employer-led skills training partnership. Having access to the entire Fortinet team of all levels at any time truly makes the partnership unique and beneficial for all involved. Most importantly, Willis College and Fortinet’s job creation partnership model bridges existing IT skills gaps, creating high paid full time jobs, encouraging other US Fortune 500 companies to invest in Ottawa, which helps everyone.”