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Working Together to Invest in People: How the Private and Public Sectors Can Ensure Successful Implementation of the National Cyber Workforce Strategy
By Michael Alicea · May 17, 2023
I was honored to take part in a recent RSAC cyber skills panel, moderated by Camille Stewart Gloster, the Deputy National Cyber Director, along with the other panelists, Diana Burley, Vice-Provost, American University, and Tara Wisniewski, Executive Vice President, ISC2. Our panel discussed how the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to support the successful implementation of the National Cyber Workforce Strategy. Our panel discussed current and future commitments and investments in cyber security skills and steps our nation needs to take to close the cyber security skills gap. I also had the opportunity to discuss the role we are playing at Trellix to do our part. We have redesigned our job roles to focus on skills, not just degrees or how many years someone has been in a role, to ensure that we recruit, retain, and promote the most talented, diverse workforce possible.
The White House will release the National Cyber Security Skills strategy in the next few months. I believe a critical metric of its success will be the extent to which the public sector, private sector, academia, and civil society stakeholders work together to use their teams and budgets to raise the bar on how our nation and allies invest in people. We have an opportunity to change the game, from a static, rules bound system of training, hiring, and promoting people to a new paradigm of leveraging diverse skills sets from diverse communities to close the cyber skills gap which, according to a 2022 IC2 Cyber Security Skills study, is 4.7 million people on a global basis. To capture the power of the White House’s cyber skills strategy, several initiatives stand out: Public support of the cyber skills initiative, matching funding for, or direct funding for non-profits, and building up the capabilities of the cyber security skills ecosystem.
The successful implementation of the cyber skills initiative will require coordination and support from a wide array of stakeholders, including Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. Many of the investments needed to implement the cyber skills strategy will depend on Congress appropriating the money needed to increase investments in programs run by federal and state agencies, universities, community colleges, schools, and nonprofits. To drive these investments to success, federal agencies will need to align them to new initiatives to produce stair step change, particularly those run by community colleges and non-profits.
I would encourage the administration to pay particular attention to the role non-profits play in finding and helping train people from diverse backgrounds in job ready cyber skills. I have seen how nonprofits such as Gotara, a global career growth platform for women in STEM+, and Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals, help people prepare for and enter the cyber security field. The administration’s investment strategy can create an ecosystem of non-profits, at scale, by directly investing in non-profits focused on cyber skills training.
In addition to the role non-profits can play to create change, we need to recognize that no one company or entity can do it by themselves. It’s imperative for the government to partner with a wide variety of companies so we all can accelerate our investments to create the next generation of cyber talent. Companies can use creative programs such as internships skills, on-the job training, and partnerships with non-profits to grow cyber training on a national basis. By working together, the private sector can be a force for positive change to create a diverse, skilled work force needed to protect our nation from cyber-attacks.
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