Building a cyber workforce to protect America’s future

Building a cyber workforce to protect America’s future
By William Trumbull and Nicole Patrick
Vice President, Workforce Innovation
Jun 3, 2021
How can innovation, youth apprenticeships, and work-based learning help make your cyber workforce goals a reality?

In the United States today, there are over 460,000 cybersecurity job openings. As an industry, cybersecurity has continued to face persistent talent gaps nationwide. Given that the cost of damage inflicted by cybercrime could reach $6 trillion in 2021 and grow by 15% annually, this is one of our nation’s most pressing workforce and security challenges.

To address this critical shortage, our workforce and human capital experts focus on employer-driven strategies that build skills and connect workers to jobs in high-demand sectors, like cybersecurity. With its unprecedented investment in cybersecurity, the Biden administration hopes to protect the nation, advance economic recovery, and strengthen the American workforce.

What will it take to make these cyber workforce goals a reality? In a recent webinar, we explained our work in helping employers build registered apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity.

Innovation is key

It all starts with the ability to innovate. Maintaining an innovative edge in key activities like recruitment and employer engagement is what bridges the critical gap between workers and jobs.

While we always embrace the promise of emerging technologies, we also leverage concepts embodied by the National Institute of Technology’s (NIST) Cyber Security Framework, which aligns diverse stakeholders across all levels of government, education, and training to quickly identify and build cybersecurity skills. This involves implementing employer-driven work-based learning models, where individuals can work for pay under the guidance of an expert while acquiring new skills, new experiences, and industry-recognized credentials.

Working on one of the nation’s greatest challenges in real-time—and in conjunction with training and mentorship—accelerates employee growth, creates value for the employer, and, ultimately, addresses America’s shortage of qualified candidates in the cybersecurity field.

Youth apprenticeships and work-based learning

At the recent 2021 CyberMaryland Conference, our team described bringing cyber workforce solutions to life through two major projects.

  1. The Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Initiative (CYAI). Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration Office of Apprenticeship, the CYAI promotes the sustainable development of cybersecurity apprenticeship programs for youth between the ages of 16 and 21. As we end year two, the initiative registered over 415 youth cybersecurity apprentices through partnerships with community colleges and universities, career centers, workforce development boards, and other community-based organizations.
  2. The Learning, Employment, and (Economic) Development for Information Technology (LEAD 4 IT). Based in Virginia, this project represents a truly collaborative effort across stakeholders, leveraging partnerships that we’ve forged with employers, institutions of higher education, the Virginia Chamber Foundation, Franklin Apprenticeships, and the SkillSource Group, the nonprofit fiscal agent of the region’s workforce development board. The first phase leverages Virginia as a laboratory for work-based learning; the second will replicate successful solutions nationwide.

A win-win for economics and cybersecurity

Our efforts in this ever-growing field leverage work-based learning, employment, training, and economic development assets to develop dynamic workforce strategies that train workers and jobseekers for occupations in IT and cybersecurity.

Through a diverse group of partner stakeholders, we’ll be able to replicate and scale-up proofs of concept for innovative training models for the nation’s broader workforce system, moving us closer to a more secure future.

It’s a win-win for our nation’s economy and its security.

Meet the authors
  1. William Trumbull, Vice President, Workforce Innovation

    William is a workforce innovation expert with 30 years of experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. View bio

  2. Nicole Patrick

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