The White House has launched the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES), a far reaching and comprehensive campaign to help fill hundreds of thousands of cyber vacancies across the U.S. with qualified staffers.
Biden Administration officials said the initiative involves making “generational investments” to set up the nation to lead the digital economy. The NCWES is positioned to “empower every American” who wants to work in a cyber environment. The idea is to pare the “vast number of vacant cyber jobs,” officials said.
Accordingly, candidates can qualify for many cyber jobs through a certificate or community college degree.
Group Effort Around National Cyber Strategy
The NCWES, which ties to Biden’s National Cybersecurity Strategy released last March, was developed in consultation with non-governmental stakeholder groups, including private industry, academia, non-profits, government partners, and others. At the opening gate, nearly 40 entities had committed to support the endeavor.
At this early point, many of the stakeholders, including educators, industry and government, have already demonstrated their commitment to the NCWES through their actions and partnerships, officials said.
Said the White House said in a fact sheet on the project:
"The NCWES emphasizes that no one actor can alone affect the needed change at scale. This means all stakeholders — including educators, industry, government, and more —must all execute on the objectives set forth in this strategy.”
Guiding Principles of the National Cyber Strategy
As with Biden’s National Cybersecurity Strategy, the NCWES project has three goals, or what it calls “guiding imperatives” and four “pillars” as its foundation.
The imperatives include:
- The NCWES represents a whole-of-nation effort to spark, support, and scale local ecosystems for cyber education and workforce development.
- All Americans should be equipped with foundational cyber skills that are needed to navigate daily life. People who are in the cyber workforce should be equipped with specialized cyber skills that will change over the course of their careers.
- Grow and enhance the cyber workforce through improving its diversity and inclusion. A diverse workforce is a key strategic advantage. It increases the pool of eligible workers and provides novel ways to solve problems and develop innovative solutions.
The four pillars include:
Equip Every American with foundational cyber skills.
- Enable everyone to enjoy the full benefits of our interconnected society.
- Make foundational cyber skill learning opportunities available to all.
- Promote the pursuit of foundational cyber skills and cyber careers.
- Foster global progress in foundational cyber skills.
Transform Cyber Education.
- Address the immediate demand for a skilled cyber workforce while also preparing learners to meet the future needs of a dynamic technological environment.
- Build and leverage ecosystems to improve cyber education, from K-12 education to higher education, community colleges, and technical schools.
- Expand competency-based cyber education.
- Invest in educators and improve cyber education systems.
- Make cyber education and training more affordable and accessible.
Expand and Enhance the National Cyber Workforce.
- Collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders, adopt a skills-based approach to recruitment and development, and increase access to cyber jobs for all Americans, including underserved and underrepresented groups.
- Grow the cyber workforce by proliferating and strengthening ecosystems.
- Promote skills-based hiring and workforce development.
- Leverage the diversity of America to strengthen the cyber workforce.
- Enhance international engagements.
Strengthen the Federal Cyber Workforce.
- Communicate the benefits of careers in public service among both job seekers and current employees and lower the barriers associated with hiring and onboarding.
- Drive sustained progress through greater federal collaboration.
- Attract and hire a qualified and diverse federal cyber workforce.
- Improve career pathways in the federal cyber workforce.
- Invest in human resources capabilities and personnel.
Cyber Experts Endorse Strategy
Some cybersecurity experts commented on the NCWES program:
Said Sherron Burgess, Cyversity strategy vice president:
"The National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy sets a direction for both workforce and education, while taking an ecosystem-focused approach. The Biden Administration’s strategy also represents an innovation in transforming cyber education, which is absolutely necessary in engaging underrepresented groups through new and existing initiatives."
Candy Alexander, ISSA International president, praised the initiative:
"The Biden Administration's strategy is exactly what the industry needs and addresses what we have been advocating for: the collaboration of education institutions, government programs, corporate organizations, and the cyber association communities to build pathways to bridge the gap between pure education and employment."