White House Initiative Aims To Boost Cyber Employment
Administrative strategy combines government, education and corporate efforts to address cyber skill needs.
The Biden-Harris administration on Monday announced a new National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES).
The NCWES aims to boost the workforce and fill current U.S. cyber-job vacancies through various educational, government and industry efforts. The effort, along with other administration programs, will help "strengthen middle class working families," the White House contended.
The NCWES has four conceptional pillars, per its 60-page strategy document (PDF), namely:
- Equip Every American with Foundational Cyber Skills;
- Transform Cyber Education;
- Expand and Enhance America's Cyber Workforce; and
- Strengthen the Federal Cyber Workforce.
The NCWES strategy document indicated that cyber jobs are going unfilled in the United States, citing a couple of studies. For instance, an industry study by ISC2 found an "unmet demand for 411,000 cybersecurity workers in 2022, a 9.0% increase from 2021." Another study by the National Skills Coalition found that nearly one-third of U.S. workers between 16 years of age and 64 years of age lacked cyber skills, even though "92% of jobs across industries in the United States require at least some digital skills."
Diversity inclusiveness was described as a necessary means to help further the NCWES strategy, per the document.
To jumpstart cyber employment, various government agencies pledged efforts and money toward the NCWES' goals. Here's a small sampling of those efforts:
- The U.S. Department of Labor will award $65 million in grants to states and territories to develop cybersecurity and other apprenticeship programs.
- The National Science Foundation plans to invest more than $24 million in CyberCorps, a cybersecurity scholarship bestowed on organizations, such as universities.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology plans to award up to $3.6 million for "cybersecurity education and workforce development projects" under its RAMPS effort.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs established a "Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program" for veterans, which will start recruiting in "Q1 FY2024," although the dollar figures weren't described.
- The National Security Agency also is giving grants to Cyber Clinics at accredited colleges and universities, although it didn't specify monetary figures.
Nongovernmental Org Support
Various nongovernmental organizations pledged participation in the NCWES.
The SANS Institute indicated it had expanded scholarships via a partnership with CyberStart America and Cyber FastTrack, amounting to "over $9.2 million in training and certification scholarships to 500+ individuals." The Cyber Readiness Institute and the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation plan to launch an educational pilot program to support water utilities with "basic cybersecurity training."
There were plenty of other NGOs that pledged support, too.
Various corporations pledged NCWES support.
Check Point Software plans to train "one million individuals in cybersecurity skills by 2028" as part of its MIND Cyber Security Training Program. Accenture indicated it would "provide cybersecurity training to more than 700,000 of Accenture's people in the next year."
Google has "committed more than $20 million" for student cybersecurity training in collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics, which will go toward "20 higher education institutions across the U.S." CrowdStrike plans to fill more than 300 internships and "fund ten $10,000 scholarships" as part of its SkillBridge apprenticeship program.
Microsoft, for its part, aims to "skill and recruit into the cybersecurity workforce 250,000 people by 2025" via its partnership with the Last Mile Education Fund. This effort provides support for more than 379 community colleges, including "$1,177,000 in direct scholarship support to 2,378 students" plus "$93,000 in additional voucher assistance."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.