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Blog Post

Supporting Public-private Partnerships to Deepen Cybersecurity Workforce

By Adam Stone and Tobias Naegele

January 11, 2017

Competition for talented cyber professionals is intense, with as many as 1 million unfilled cyber vacancies worldwide. Some 60 percent of U.S. government IT leaders say they don’t have enough cybersecurity experts on hand to meet demand, according to (ISC)2’s Global Information Security Workforce Study.

One problem the Trump administration faces is convincing qualified candidates to join the government workforce. “Women and men across the West Coast have cutting-edge cybersecurity skills and technical knowledge, but lack viable, short-term opportunity to place their talents in the service of national security,” notes the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley in a series of policy recommendations for the incoming president. “Our Executive Branch must develop new ways to bring the private sector’s most innovative technologists into national service, while also permitting that talent to stay connected to private sector cyber innovation.”

The report recommends creating a nimble cyber incubator in Silicon Valley and providing streamlined security clearances to allow some of the nation’s “best technologists to work on national security challenges without giving up their work cultures and networks.”

The report also suggests the incoming president launch a new Cyber Advanced Research Projects Agency (CARPA) to focus on long-term cyber needs.

Filling the cyber vacancies gap is a top priority for the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and others closely engaged on the matter and working with universities, training specialists and others to identify and train the talent they need. NIST’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) provides a government-wide framework to identify, recruit and train cyber professionals in seven distinct areas: Cyber Incident Response, Cyber Risk and Strategic Analysis, Vulnerability Detection and Assessment, Intelligence and Investigation, Networks and Systems Engineering, Digital Forensics and Forensics Analysis and Software Assurance.

Trump has already backed the idea of public-private partnerships to spur investment in national energy and infrastructure; whether he will extend that to the cyber area remains to be seen. The Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity also focused on this problem. Its report urges the next president to initiate a national cybersecurity apprenticeship program to train 50,000 new cybersecurity practitioners by 2020 and national cybersecurity workforce program to train 100,000 new cybersecurity practitioners by 2020.

Trump has yet to signal a specific policy direction in this area, but given the high-profile role Cybersecurity breaches played during the election campaign, it’s logical to expect it will continue to be a priority.