Cyber.org, a cybersecurity-centric workforce development organization, has released what it’s touting as the first national road map to expand cyber education and literacy among the nation’s K-12 students.
The organization, formerly called the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, believes that K-12 cyber education is the key to solving the cyber workforce shortage. It has published a guide for teachers and school districts to uniformly educate K-12 students on the key fundamentals of cybersecurity. The idea is to help build a durable pipeline to fill the nearly half million open cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. by increasing “foundational cybersecurity awareness, access to cybersecurity education and interest in the cybersecurity profession,” Cyber.org said.
Its K-12 Cybersecurity Learning Standards book is grouped by three core themes: Computing Systems, Digital Citizenship and Security. Each concept covers a range of cybersecurity topics, ranging from the Internet of Things (IoT) to Threat Actors. “It is imperative that the next generation workforce has the skills and knowledge needed to enter into the cybersecurity workforce and that all students grow up to be good digital citizens that will live, work and play in cyberspace safely and ethically,” the report reads.
Filling the Cybersecurity Talent Gap?
A national set of K-12 cybersecurity learning standards will provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to fill open jobs in the field, said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach at Cyber.org. “For the first time, educators have a roadmap for uniformly teaching cybersecurity to students in each grade band across the country”
Cyber.org is backed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its cyber unit, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA), to develop and distribute related content to educators across the country at no cost. States now have the option to adopt the standards ahead of the 2022-2023 school year. Some 18,000 teachers nationwide are enrolled in its content platform, Cyber.org said.
A committee of K-12 educators and key stakeholders across education, government, and industry had input into the relevancy and value of creating the standards. McRel International, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education research, development and service organization that helps schools, districts and education agencies improve outcomes for students also contributed to the effort.
“The national K-12 cybersecurity learning standards will enable greater access to cybersecurity education in classrooms across the country,” said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction. “These standards will provide students with the same cybersecurity learning opportunities at each grade level and are essential to helping them prepare for the high-demand cybersecurity jobs of the future.”
Cybersecurity Talent: College Degrees Not Required?
Previous thinking that the cybersecurity employment gap can only be closed with talent developed at the four-year college level has long been debunked by numerous organizations, which are now looking to technical and vocational education, junior college courses, apprentice programs, certifications, mentoring and internships to mine for qualified candidates to fill roles in cybersecurity, including managed security services.