The State of the Cyber Workforce Training in State & Local Governments

This blog is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent industry perspective, Improving Cyber Workforce Training in State and Local Governments. Download the full perspective here

As nearly half of public servants approach retirement age, government is scrambling to find new talent. Yet as agencies compete for new hires, they often find that recruitment time, pay and other benefits fall short of private-sector equivalents. While this is a concerning issue for all government fields, it is specifically alarming when it comes to fields like cybersecurity that require highly trained professionals to safeguard our infrastructures.

Particularly at the state and local levels, the number of cybersecurity-related jobs already outnumbers people qualified to fill them, and that demand is growing rapidly. To counter that shortage, some organizations are creating new strategies to organize and recruit cyber professionals.

For instance, the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides a blueprint to categorize, organize and describe cybersecurity work into tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). The Workforce Framework provides a common language to speak about cyber roles and jobs, helping define professional requirements in cybersecurity. Such frameworks are especially important to help government agencies define where their cyber professionals are lacking and where they could improve training methods.

Yet more must be done to fill the gap between skills and cyber risks. Many agencies are considering innovative ways to use their current staff, including non-IT professions, to bolster cybersecurity. To accomplish that goal, government organizations at all levels are teaming up with private industry to train a more competitive cyber workforce.

Building and training the cyber workforce in government will take time and serious collaboration. Government needs to invest in:

  • Educators to create programs aligned to cyber professions;
  • Students to graduate with knowledge and skills that employers need;
  • Employers to be able to recruit from a larger pool of more qualified candidates;
  • Employees with the necessary skills and better-defined career paths and opportunities; and
  • Policymakers to set standards to promote cyber workforce professionalization.

It’s increasingly important for agencies to develop the right training programs for cyber technology, build situational awareness and address the serious gap in cybersecurity knowledge for IT staff and all employees. But achieving these objectives will be challenging, especially for state and local governments that have smaller budgets and fewer personnel than their federal counterparts.

In an interview with GovLoop, Aaron Cohen, Director of Product Management and Cyber Security Services, and Jim Drain, Cybersecurity Services Official in the Federal Sector at Symantec, discussed the challenges facing the state and local workforces as well as solutions to better train cybersecurity professionals and all agency employees.

In this report, we explain how your organization can better enable cyber staff through training, testing employee skill sets and utilizing intelligence with data and analytics to make smarter decisions and respond appropriately to cyberthreats.

Download the full perspective here




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