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The Cyber Workforce We Need

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Wed Sep 14 2016

The Cyber Workforce We Need
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The nation's growing challenges require a federal cybersecurity workforce that possesses the cybersecurity knowledge, skills, and competencies to counter increasingly sophisticated and ever-changing threats. To address this need, the president directed his administration to implement a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that takes near-term actions and puts in place a long-term strategy to strengthen cybersecurity education, policies, and practices. The CNAP seeks to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy, maintain public safety as well as economic and national security, and empower Americans to take better control of their digital security.

The CNAP also highlights the need to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity workforce by enhancing cyber education and providing development and training opportunities for existing government employees. In particular, the plan seeks to strengthen the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program, which provides comprehensive scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students in exchange for their commitment to work for federal, state, and local government agencies. More than 2,000 talented scholars have graduated from this program to date, and it can and should serve as a resource for recruiting top cybersecurity talent. The CNAP also seeks to increase the number of participating academic institutions and expand cybersecurity education through the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Defense program.

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The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently incorporated these initiatives into the first-ever Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy. The strategy details a series of near-term actions to identify, expand, recruit, develop, retain, and sustain a capable and competent workforce to address cyber threats. The strategy sets forth a vision where academic and private sector cybersecurity professionals will consider time spent in federal service an essential part of their career arc.

The four key principles of the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy are:

  • The cybersecurity workforce includes employees who join federal service at different times in their careers and have different levels of expertise.

  • The cybersecurity workforce includes a mix of technical and nontechnical professionals focused on all aspects of institutional missions.

  • This is a government-wide human capital strategy, requiring ownership and action from other agencies and entities.

  • The initiative will provide complementary resources to non-cyber professionals, such as foundational cybersecurity training and development and career mobility opportunities.

For details on how the government plans to expand its pipeline of cyber talent, read "Your Critical Role in Strengthening the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce" from the September 2016 issue of The Public Manager.

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