Cybersecurity has a desperate skills crisis. Rural America could have the answer

Written by , Senior Editor Owen Hughes Senior Editor

Owen is a senior editor at ZDNet. Based in London, UK, Owen covers software development, IT workforce trends and the evolution of tech and work.

Full Bio Image: Chris Pagan/Discover Manistique

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is home to 30% of the county’s landmass, but just 3% of its population. 

Boasting dense technicolour forests dotted with waterfalls and surrounded by dazzling turquoise lakes, the Upper Peninsula (UP) lures explorers and lovers of the outdoors and is a world away from the noisy, kinetic streets of the Michigan capital of Detroit some 350 miles away.

When J.R. Cunningham arrived in the tiny rural town of Manistique in UP 13 years ago, it soon became apparent that he was something of a novelty in a town in which most of the workforce is employed in retail, manufacturing and the service industry. 

“When I got to Manistique, what I quickly realised was there were no IT people there – like, none,” Cunningham tells ZDNet.  

“If you think about it, really the profession hadn’t existed. We didn’t

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