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US government combats thinning cyber workforce with ‘whole-of-society’ approach

The US government has announced a multifaceted approach to bolstering its cyber security, with a new alliance that will join the efforts of hundreds of private organisations and government agencies.

user icon Daniel Croft
Wed, 02 Aug 2023
US government combats thinning cyber workforce with ‘whole-of-society’ approach
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The National Cyber and Workforce Education Strategy will see nine government agencies partner with over 200 organisations consisting of universities, nonprofits, corporations and more, with the common goal of expanding the cyber security workforce for the “whole of society”.

“Today’s digital landscape is defined by ever-increasing demand for cyber security skills,” said a release by the Biden-Harris administration.

“Frontier technologies that can address climate change, secure our nation, and advance the health and welfare of communities are creating a demand for early career and historically untapped talent.

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“We must align these jobs of tomorrow to our approaches to skilling.”

The strategy, which includes over US$24 million (roughly $36.2 million) in grants from the National Science Foundation, will aim to fund a number of cyber security education scholarships in seven universities and scholarships across Alabama, California, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, and Tennessee.

In addition, the Department of Labor is contributing US$65 million (roughly $98.6 million) to fund grates in 45 states and territories to scale cyber security apprenticeship programs, as well as for other industries, while the National Institute of Standards and Technology will be providing US$3.6 million (roughly $5.46 million) to bolster cyber security education and workforce projects.

Craig Newmark, who represents one of the nonprofits of the initiative, has said he plans to double the current commitment of US$50 million (roughly $75.8 million) to US$100 million (roughly $151.6 million) in grants that have been assigned to organisations looking to improve diversity and inclusivity within the cyber workforce.

“This is about me putting my money where my mouth is,” he said.

“I look forward to continuing to be involved in this effort via funding — after all, a nerd’s got to do what a nerd’s got to do.”

Deputy national cyber director Camille Stewart Gloster has called out the shortage of cyber security workers as a risk to economic prosperity, as well as security.

“[This is] a national security imperative, an economic imperative, a human security imperative, but it also is an opportunity for good-paying jobs – good-paying, middle-class jobs,” she said.

“We must support the development of a strong cyber workforce.”

According to findings from Cyber Seek, the US only has enough cyber security workers to fill 69 per cent of all roles.

Australia is suffering a similar shortage of cyber security workers, leading to those still in the industry suffering from burnout as they are overworked to meet the needs of the nation’s security.

A number of state and federal government initiatives have been launched to combat these shortages, including offering 180,000 free TAFE positions across 110 courses nationwide. The federal government provided states and territories with $1.1 billion in funding to launch the initiative.

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