This week in Seattle, the Biden-Harris Administration continued its National Cyber Workforce Roadshow, participating in a series of events to promote the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy released in July.
Alongside the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Kiran Ahuja, Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden attended listening sessions with federal government leadership, community college educators and high school students to discuss building the nation’s cyber workforce in the federal government and across the nation.
On Tuesday, October 24th, Acting National Cyber Director Walden joined OPM Director Ahujah to support OPM’s efforts to recruit the next generation of talent to the federal government. 85% of nearly 2.2 million federal jobs are based outside of Washington, DC. Less than 7% of federal employees are under 30, revealing a critical need to ramp up hiring efforts across the nation.
Acting Director Walden and Director Ahuja addressed Seattle’s Federal Executive Board, which represents over 48,000 federal employees in the region, to understand their needs. Acting Director Walden discussed the importance of training and hiring cyber talent. She also explained the President’s National Cybersecurity Strategy released in March to help federal leaders from varying agencies understand, on a local level, how the national strategy brings a whole-of-government effort to our collective cyber vision.
Also on Tuesday, Acting Director Walden and Director Ahujah participated in a roundtable with administrators from Seattle Community College, Seattle University and Washington State Board for Community and Technical College to exchange ideas and explore how to work together to expand awareness about in-demand cyber skills and good-paying cyber jobs for Washington State residents.
The day concluded with a visit to Boeing, where Acting Director Walden toured the manufacturing facility and talked with executives about their ongoing work to build a pipeline of cyber talent through the Boeing Technical Apprenticeship Program.
The trip concluded on Wednesday, October 25 with a “Classroom to Career Day” where Acting Director Walden and Director Ahuja shared their career paths to the federal government with nearly 100 students at Chief Sealth International High School providing the students with early insight into careers in the federal governments. Acting Director Walden emphasized the importance of cyber career opportunities, saying “it’s very possible that your dream job is in the federal government.”
In addition to Acting Director Walden’s activities in the state, ONCD leadership also participated in additional local events throughout the week. On Monday, Assistant National Cyber Director Seeyew Mo addressed a group of career counselors, students and young professionals from area colleges in a discussion focused on cyber workforce opportunities. Hosted by Whatcom Community College, ANCD Mo highlighted federal government cyber recruitment including The National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. The program offers students up to three years of support for cybersecurity undergraduate and graduate education, including full tuition, stipends, and a professional allowance. Of the 60 students from the Seattle-area who have received SFS awards, 39 currently work in government.
Throughout the week’s engagements, participants learned about the essential roles that industry, government, and non-profit organizations play in training the cyber workforce and cyber training offered to Washington State residents. There are nearly 12,000 open cyber jobs across the state of Washington, nearly 9,000 of which are based in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area alone. Funding from the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act is helping to create pathways to cyber jobs. Because of these federal government investments, both companies and communities can increase access to cybersecurity jobs and training. In Washington specifically, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $433.4 million for resilience and $7.4 million for the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program to address cybersecurity risks to information systems in the state.
Anyone interested in learning more about the National Cybersecurity Workforce and Education Strategy, including local resources, were encouraged to visit WhiteHouse.Gov/Cyberworkforce. More information about cyber careers in the federal government can be found at OPM.gov/Cyber-Careers.
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