Job postings in the field of cybersecurity have increased 170% in the last six years. But fewer than 25% of applicants are qualified for these positions.
This skills gap puts U.S. workers and businesses in a precarious economic position. It also has the potential to diminish the United States’ position as a global economic leader.
— Mark Ouellette
One solution lies within the White House’s Task Force on Apprentice Expansion. Part of the U.S. Department of Labor, they recently turned to ICF to help build the pipeline of tomorrow’s cybersecurity professionals.
Putting high school and college students to the test
And so ICF launched the Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Initiative (CYAI), focusing on three key geographic areas:
- Southern California
- the Mid-Atlantic region
- U.S. Virgin Islands
The importance of effective cybersecurity cannot be underestimated, says ICF workforce development expert Mark Ouellette. “That’s why we’re using multiple strategies to develop the pipeline of cybersecurity professionals.” Through the CYAI, ICF is working with employers, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations to get more young people into registered apprenticeships in cybersecurity.
One way the team is raising the profile of cybersecurity careers is through cybersecurity competitions. At these “Capture the Flag” events—where team-based challenges require participants to solve computer security problems which capture and defend computer systems—young people aged 16-21 test their skills through problem-solving activities and scenarios and get connected to CYAI.
During the first year alone, CYAI will sponsor 12 competitions—including two hosted by ICF in October: one in Maryland; the other in the U.S. Virgin Islands—in collaboration with a university partner.
Meanwhile, we continue to build an array of partnerships in all three targeted geographic areas, creating new opportunities for young people to study, work, and grow professionally in the cybersecurity industry.
Learn more about cyber career opportunities at ICF.