There’s a cybersecurity workforce gap — but that’s partly because students interested in the field don’t have a good grasp of the educational programs and scholarships that are out there, according to officials and a new report released Thursday.
The report, produced by the National Academy of Public Administration, the Center for Internet Security and Deloitte, offers several recommendations to streamline federal initiatives in cybersecurity education.
“There’s a lot of confusion out there with the students, and what is supposed to happen and where they should go to school and how they should map this out,” said Karen Evans, national director for the U.S. Cyber Challenge and former e-government administrator for the Office of Management and Budget.
“A lot of people say we can’t fill the gap because students don’t want to come to the public sector, and that’s not true,” she continued, speaking at the report’s launch in the Capitol Visitor Center. “They just don’t know how to traverse through the resources.”
Evans said the report clarifies and distinguishes between different college-level cyber programs that are available, like the National Security Agency’s cybersecurity education program and the National Science Foundation’s Scholarship for Service program.
In the former program, 14 colleges around the country have been designated Centers for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, and have become feeders into private and public sector security jobs. The latter program provides funding to colleges and universities that award scholarships to students pursuing cybersecurity degrees. In return, the students must work for the federal government after graduation.
The panel recommended increasing hands-on training, identifying performance and measurement markers, and expanding the scholarship program to address the entire public sector rather than just the federal government.
“As baby boomers retire, we’re going to have to focus more and more on the up-and-coming younger millennials and recruit and train them to become the core of our cybersecurity workforce,” said Mike Marshall, who works in Deloitte Advisory’s Cyber Risk Services team for the U.S. National Security Sector. “There’s a very large need for resources to be able to stay ahead of evolving, more complex cyber threats.”
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., also made an appearance to speak about the need for trained cybersecurity professionals.
“We have a mismatch — we have millions of people in our country who are looking for work, and we have employers who are looking for folks who have [these] skills,” he said.
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