By Kemba Walden, Acting National Cyber Director
At the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month I issued a call to action – asking organizations to join us building a cyber workforce that meets the challenges of our digital age. As October draws to a close, I’m impressed by the commitments that have been made by organizations across the nation to help us meet the growing demand for cybersecurity talent to build more secure, resilient and defensible cyberspace that is aligned with our values.
I’m grateful to every organization which heeded the call since the release of the National Cybersecurity Workforce and Education Strategy in July. To date, more than 50 organizations have made commitments in support of the strategy and we have secured over $280 million dollars towards equipping Americans with foundational cyber skills, transforming cyber education, expanding the national cyber workforce, and strengthening the federal cyber workforce.
In October alone, some of the nation’s largest companies have stepped up to accelerate and expand training and apprenticeship programs, committing to reach up to 225,000 people, and have built cybersecurity competitions to challenge new expertise and bring talent into leading cybersecurity companies.
As the President often reminds us, “We’ve never set our mind to a project we haven’t accomplished if we do it together.” That’s because American workers have shown time and time again that, if given an opportunity, they are dynamic, adaptable and up to any challenge. In the face of rapid technological change and the great promise that comes with leading the digital economy, now is the time to redouble our efforts and ensure American workers have the opportunity to join this important mission to create a secure, resilient and defensible cyberspace.
And, addressing this need is not only a national security imperative, but a massive economic opportunity. Together we’re charting a path to ensure more Americans can obtain good-paying, middle-class jobs in cybersecurity – building an economy of resilience from the bottom up and the middle out.
We are appreciative of the commitments made by big technology companies like Cisco Systems and Palo Alto Networks, by manufacturers like Boeing, financial institutions like Visa, non-profits like ISC2, partnerships between groups like the SANS Institute, Siemens Energy and ICS Village, and statewide ecosystems like the Ohio Cyber Range Institute-Regional Programming center Ecosystem (OCRI-RPC).
Together, commitments made by all of these institutions will build the pipeline of cyber talent and foster our ability to create a secure, resilient and defensible cyberspace.
These are just some of the great activities happening across the country. For a full list of our commitments made to date and to learn more about how your organization can join our effort, visit www.whitehouse.gov/cyberworkforce
I’m pleased to welcome the energy, commitment and efforts of each organization joining the effort. Let’s keep the momentum and great partnerships going.
At Boeing, a leading global aerospace company, the digital revolution has created new demands for technical skills to align with the digital future of work. The Boeing Technical Apprenticeship Program (BTAP) is an accelerated, on-the-job, earn as you learn registered apprenticeship development program for those interested in gaining new job-ready technical skills for emerging and in-demand roles. BTAP participants receive paid, relevant work experience and are mentored by industry leaders while acquiring valued skills and on-the-job experiences. After a successful pilot program led to more than 10 high-quality and diverse employees hired across several states, BTAP launched a second cohort in July 2023 and is planning to expand the next round of apprenticeships to directly support Boeing as well as industry partners, preparing employees for jobs in Information Systems Security, Architecture and Cloud Security, Incident Response, and/or Product Security Engineering.
To ensure that U.S. organizations receive the certification-driven, skills-based training they need to develop their cybersecurity teams and achieve cybersecurity readiness, Cisco committed to training 200,000 people with cybersecurity skills in the U.S. by July 2025 through the Cisco Networking Academy. Cisco has also announced new Multicloud Certifications focused on connectivity and security to ensure IT professionals have the skills to protect companies from future cyber-attacks. In addition to providing security products and solutions, Cisco is addressing the critical need to close the cybersecurity skills gap at all levels by offering a continuum of learning through Cisco Networking Academy and Cisco U. Further, Cisco recently released a new Ethical Hacker course to prepare individuals for cyber offensive roles like Ethical Hacker and Penetration Tester. For tech professionals who want to reskill or upskill, Cisco Learning & Certifications, including the Cisco U. platform prepares learners for professional-level certifications up to expert-level bootcamps and role-based skills training. Cisco offers an industry-leading portfolio of technology innovations, with networking, security, collaboration, cloud management, and more.
The Ohio Cyber Range Institute-Regional Programming Center Ecosystem (OCRI-RPC)
The OCRI-RPC Ecosystem is committed to expanding its skills-based training on a secure cyber range to all 88 counties in Ohio. Housed at and administered by the University of Cincinnati on behalf of the state, the OCRI-RPC Ecosystem knits together 24 other Ohio universities, colleges, and non-profit organizations through a regional programming center system to deliver cyber range services to cybersecurity professionals and students across Ohio. The OCRI-RPC Ecosystem has supported, to date, over 20,000 distinct Ohio-based users through 314 K-12 classes, 668 higher education courses, and delivering 105 cyber camps, exercises, and bootcamps, the latter involving 1000 citizens seeking industry recognized cybersecurity credentials.
ICS Village, SANS Institute, Siemens Energy
ICS Village (a non-profit organization to advance security awareness and education of industrial control systems (ICS)), SANS Institute (a global cybersecurity training, workforce development, certification, and education provider), Siemens Energy (a Siemens business that supports companies and countries to reduce emissions across the energy landscape for a more sustainable energy system), and their partners plan to launch the Cybersecurity & Industrial Infrastructure Security Apprenticeship Program (CIISAp) as a Registered Apprenticeship to develop the next generation of cyber defenders protecting the digitally connected systems such as energy assets, wastewater treatment facilities, advanced manufacturing, and transportation systems. The initial goal is to fill the pipeline with 100 candidates with a focus on veterans and transitioning military members. This four-year program would enable apprentices to apply their technical industrial cybersecurity education with moderate computer skills, and gain the hands-on experience and knowledge needed to fill existing cybersecurity vacancies that currently pay above $90,000 per year. Apprentices would gain job experience at a rotation of employers while receiving technical training, as well as completing hands-on exercises and industry certifications.
(ISC)2 (International Information Systems Security Consortium)
ISC2, an organization that provides training and certifications for cybersecurity professionals, will provide a minimum of 25,000 individuals working in Advanced Manufacturing with its foundational Certified in Cybersecurity certification exam and training for free to help address the sector’s critical cybersecurity skills gap. ISC2 will also introduce a series of 10 virtual forums over the next 2 years to explore solutions to the cybersecurity workforce challenges impacting the nation’s advanced manufacturing sector.
Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks kicked off its 2023-2024 Secure the Future competition, which challenges 100 students enrolled in community and four-year colleges and universities throughout the country to identify and address cyber threats in vulnerable industries. To date, Palo Alto Networks has hired seven participants from the competition. The top three finalists are awarded cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500, respectively. The company also invests in educating and training a new cohort of early talent professionals and interns as members of its Systems Engineering (SE) Academy. It is one of several accelerated onboarding programs offered by Palo Alto Networks to help develop and diversify the cyber workforce and arm recent college graduates with hands-on labs and facilitated training with industry experts. As full-time members of the Palo Alto Networks workforce, program participants help organizations optimize their security posture. Palo Alto Networks recently welcomed a new cohort of systems engineers and is actively recruiting for 2024.
Credit card company Visa, a world leader in digital payment technology, has launched the Visa Payments Learning Program to diversify entry paths into the workforce with an initial focus on payments cybersecurity. Through its learning courses and certifications, Visa seeks to upskill underutilized talent, such as returning-to-workforce, early-in-career, second career, and military talent – thereby broadening the industry’s talent marketplace. Visa’s initial introductory Payments Cybersecurity training courses and certifications will be offered to three groups: students via partner institutions, Visa clients, and Visa employees, apprentices and interns. Visa has welcomed an initial cohort of apprentices, who have undergone 16-weeks of specialist training and have recently embarked on a one-year apprenticeship. Visa also plans to develop intermediate and advanced level courses and certifications in 2024, and ultimately provide educational pathways to both local communities and to the broader payments industry.