The Office of the National Cyber Director’s (ONCD) Cyber Workforce Strategy will be released this summer, and the agency is “looking to include” four pillars in the document that key on how the Federal government can address severe shortages in cyber workforce, training, and education.
Caitlin Clarke, ONCD’s assistant national cyber director for planning and operations, previewed the agency’s forthcoming strategy today at GovCIO’s Women Tech Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
“One of the reasons we have a gap is that technology is moving at a pace that our workforce cannot keep up with,” Clarke said during the April 13 event. “We need to look at different areas where we can bring folks in to start filling those gaps.”
The White House leader said that the Federal government has “exhausted” areas such as engineering or computer science, and it’s time to start looking at more non-traditional roles to help fill the cyber workforce gap – like teachers, she said.
ONCD’s new Cyber Workforce Strategy is intended to focus on areas like education for girls and underserved and underrepresented communities.
Clarke revealed that the strategy’s first pillar will focus on equipping every American to thrive in a “wholly, interconnected community.”
“One of the other things that we need to do fundamentally is … we need to equip every American to be able to thrive in this information security, cyber ecosystem,” Clarke said. She explained that this means exposing them at a younger age to technology – for example, computers in an elementary school classroom.
The second pillar will key on transforming cyber education, Clarke said.
“We can’t have a cyber workforce if we aren’t addressing cyber all the way,” Clarke said. “That is going to take a whole-of-nation approach to bring cyber education.”
“We have made strides there, but we want to make a focused effort on revamping education from K-12 into higher ed to look at what are we teaching [and] how we broaden the understanding of cybersecurity as not just engineering and developing,” she said.
The White House is also focusing on cyber apprenticeships and understanding how to bring more people into the Federal cyber workforce.
“How can we work with apprenticeships, or other levers, that we can work with the private sector to open up where we can pull people from,” she said in describing elements of the workforce strategy.
Finally, Clarke explained that the fourth pillar will focus on strengthening the current cyber workforce that exists within the Federal government.
“Our office right now is looking within those four pillars. What are those key initiatives and shifts we want to make, and we want to define as our vision,” Clarke said. “We want to define that in a way that every American can see themselves in that.”
Clarke explained that the four pillars of ONCD’s forthcoming Cyber Workforce Strategy are “underpinned” by diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We recognize that the people who are most impacted by cybercrime and cyber incidents are often the people most underserved,” Clarke said. “That same community that you’re saying is not represented in cybersecurity are also often times the victims of cybercrime.”
She continued, adding, “Our strategy is looking specifically – as we look at the national cyber workforce – at focusing on those underrepresented and under resourced communities as a pipeline to bring cyber jobs to those communities.”