Addressing the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage: It\u2019s a State of Emergency

The global cybersecurity workforce will have more than 1.9 million unfilled positions by 2020. More than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled today, and postings are up 74 percent over the previous five years. It is imperative for the national security and industrial productivity of our country and its allies that we fill the workforce pipeline for cybersecurity professionals with a plenitude of qualified workers.

According to the ISACA’s 2017 “State of Cybersecurity” report, most organizations receive only five applications for cybersecurity jobs, compared with 250 applications for other jobs. The size of the pool of preferred individuals with more than three years’ experience and a bachelor’s degree in computer science is inconsequential in comparison to the need. The hackers don’t have degrees, and they are winning the war!

Minimizing the Emergency

Apprenticeships aren’t just for the “trades” anymore. The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship has approved a set of five National Occupational Frameworks (NOFs) for the occupations of cybersecurity support technician, cybersecurity monitor, vulnerability analyst, information systems security analyst and network security analyst. Employers are permitted to customize the NOFs, as each is just one of a wide range of cybersecurity jobs that involve the protection of our vulnerable systems from hackers.

Organizations should also inform non-traditional cyber resources to become qualified to fill the skills shortage by:

Increasing millennials’ awareness of the issue and the opportunities availableTapping into individuals without an IT background and without a two-year or four-year degree but who have the interest and propensity for ITEngaging veterans to continue their mission of protecting the country in a cybersecurity jobEducating high school STEM students about the opportunities for certifications and work experiences outside of or supplemental to degree programs

Companies that are trying to keep jobs in the country have begun offering apprenticeship options for adults who have previously faced barriers to employment due to lack of computer science degrees. Earlier this year, for example, Amazon announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor to create an apprenticeship program supporting jobs for veterans in cloud-based technology.

Call to Action

It’s up to employers to modify their behavior:

Commit to training and investing in certification preparation programs.Commit to an organization-wide cybersecurity policy and awareness training.Modify hiring criteria, such as education requirements.Provide hands-on experience.Plan for apprentices to be long-term, engaged and loyal employees well beyond the apprenticeship period.Provide on-the-job and formal training to increase apprentices’ skills and contributions to the organization.Offer opportunities that inculcate the apprentice to the organization’s culture.Train supervisors on the mentoring skills that will allow them to manage cyber apprentices.Partner with adult learning providers that supplement technical training with hands-on lab experiences and provide highly valued skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, problem-solving and self-motivation.Partner with skills-based training providers that have seasoned cybersecurity mentors and tutors.

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