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October 26, 2021

U.S. cyber agency partners with Mass., NY firms on cyber training initiative

Photo | Pixabay

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has awarded $2 million to two organizations based in Massachusetts and New York to help bring cybersecurity training to underserved populations in urban and rural areas.

The award goes to Boston-based CyberWarrior and Brooklyn-based NPower to develop cyber workforce training programs for traditionally underserved populations, including veterans, military spouses, women and people of color.

This workforce development initiative from CISA is designed to benefit communities and populations that may not currently have access to cybersecurity training programs. It also builds on the agency’s other initiatives, including the initiative and Cyber Education and Training Assistance Program that targets K-12 students and educators, as well as partnerships with organizations such as the Girl Scouts and Girls Who Code.

CyberWarrior, a cybersecurity training and consulting firm, and NPower, an IT training firm for veterans, will work with CISA to develop a scalable and replicable proof of concept designed to identify and train talented people around the country and help address the cybersecurity workforce shortage.

According to cybersecurity industry group (ISC)²’s 2021 Cybersecurity Workforce Study released last November, the cybersecurity workforce stands at nearly 4.2 million professionals, an increase of more than 700,000 compared to last year.

The U.S. saw the third largest increase among countries from which data was gathered, with about 1.1 million cybersecurity professionals representing a 30% increase from 2020.

However, the study also found that the workforce gap – the number of additional professionals that organizations need to adequately defend their critical assets – decreased for the second straight year, down to 2.72 million compared to 3.12 million last year.

Regardless, the cybersecurity industry is still woefully behind in producing enough professionals to meet demand, as the global cybersecurity workforce still needs to grow 65% to effectively secure critical assets, the organization found.

The partnership between CISA, NPower and CyberWarrior aims to take a new approach to narrowing that workforce gap by creating a comprehensive cybersecurity pathways retention strategy, delivering entry-level cybersecurity training, providing hands-on and professional development experience and placing talented individuals into entry-level jobs.

In a statement, CISA Director Jen Easterly said addressing the cybersecurity workforce shortage requires looking in “nontraditional places” for the next generation of talent.

“CISA is dedicated to recruiting and training individuals from all areas and all backgrounds with the aptitude and attitude to succeed in this exciting field,” Easterly said. “It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do – for the mission and the country. We’re best positioned to solve the cyber challenges facing our nation when we have a diverse range of thought bringing every perspective to the problem.”

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