federal IT pros

White House Launches Cyber Program for Non-IT Feds

The Trump administration rolled out a new program aimed at retraining federal employees to fill open cybersecurity positions in the government.

The goal of the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy pilot program, which launched Nov. 30, is to provide a three-month training course for non-IT professionals in government and prepare them to ultimately work as cyber defense analysts.

The first cohort of applicants has until Jan. 11, 2019 to apply for the program via USAJobs.gov.

There are two separate applications depending on GS level (GS 5-11 and GS 12-15) and 25 vacancies. In terms of job placement, “The Council cannot guarantee that individuals who complete the Academy will be offered jobs; however, graduates will develop the necessary skills and certification to apply for cybersecurity positions at Federal agencies,” according to the Academy’s website.

The Academy falls in line with administration efforts to reskill and redeploy human capital resources, both of which are key components of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). The cyber reskilling program is intended to mobilize this vision through a collaboration involving the Office of Management and Budget, the Education Department, the federal CIO Council and the SANS Institute.

Training courses will take place at the U.S. Department of Education’s Lyndon Baines Johnson building in Washington, D.C.

The Selection Process

So what exactly makes an applicant a strong candidate for this full-time program?

If applicants meet the GS and other eligibility requirements, then they’ll be asked to complete an aptitude assessment. No prior cybersecurity knowledge is necessary to complete this assessment, but only applicants that pass the assessment will be considered for the program. From there, the program will review, score, interview and select applicants. Training starts March 11 and runs through June 9.

“Training assignments may include review and exposure to fictitious data collected from a variety of cyber defense tools (e.g., intrusion detection systems, alerts, firewalls, network traffic logs) to analyze events that occur within the environments for the purposes of mitigating threats,” according to the USAJobs posting.

Here are a few of the program highlights:

  • The curriculum starts with a cyber-essentials course that includes up to 120 hours of modules, labs and quizzes.
  • Participants get to attend an onsite workshop, followed by four weeks of follow-on learning, exercises and exams.
  • Next, students attend a bootcamp course live for six full days, followed by two weeks of study and a certification exam.
  • The final course is another bootcamp, followed by additional study and a final certification exam.

The program will operate like other detail opportunities in the government, which means that employees will have to make arrangements with their managers to participate in the full-time program for three months.

Another thing to consider is that “graduates should be prepared to sign Continuing Service Agreements upon completion of the training, committing to three years of continued Federal government service,” according to an FAQ about the program.

For more information and application details, visit cio.gov/reskilling.

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