Date

Oct 12, 2023

Topic(s)

Security

Author(s)

Jason Albuquerque

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Like many high school students in their junior and senior years, I was filled with uncertainty when I was in high school and thinking about where I would eventually fit into the workforce. I hadn’t fully grasped what my passions were. I wasn’t in tune with my strengths or what any of my untapped talents were. I realized that investing in college at that time would not add value for me.

My career truly began to take shape when I joined the military after graduation. To join the Marine Corps, I had to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. The ASVAB is a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. The results of this test, along with the help of an incredible recruiter who focused on my aptitude, eventually landed me at the Marine Corps School of Electronics and Communications. As I became more exposed to communication systems, information management and technologies, something extraordinary happened. My dormant aptitude for technology emerged. Eventually, I felt confident in seeking an education in undergraduate and graduate programs in technology with a laser focus on cybersecurity.

My story is a testament to the power of discovering one’s aptitude as early as possible. In the grand scheme of national cybersecurity, my experience has been more of the exception rather than the rule.

Recognizing the pressing need to bridge the massive cybersecurity skills gap, the White House has unveiled a groundbreaking National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy. This visionary strategy is focused on addressing both immediate and long-term cybersecurity workforce needs, shaping a digital future where every American can participate and contribute.

The core priorities of the strategy reflect a multilayered approach that requires collaboration and action from all key stakeholders. From educators and industry leaders to government partners and nonprofits, the strategy envisions a united effort to unlock the potential of our security talent nationwide.

"This visionary strategy [National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy] is focused on addressing both immediate and long-term cybersecurity workforce needs, shaping a digital future where every American can participate and contribute."

ENVISION'S COO JASON ALBUQUERQUE

This plan consists of four major pillars that will significantly enhance our existing workforce and education strategies.

First, it plans to equip all Americans with foundational cybersecurity skills. This pillar emphasizes the democratization of cybersecurity knowledge, ensuring that every citizen can navigate the digital landscape safely and effectively. It sets the stage for a cybersecurity-literate society.

Secondly, the plan aims to transform cybersecurity education. Acknowledging the rapidly evolving technology landscape, this pillar seeks to revamp cybersecurity education. From K-12 to higher education, community colleges and technical schools, the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy aims to build ecosystems that improve cybersecurity education. Competency-based learning, investment in educators and improved accessibility are key components.

Third, the plan looks to expand and enhance the national cybersecurity workforce while ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, including underserved and underrepresented groups. This pillar recognizes the importance of a diverse and skilled cybersecurity workforce. The strategy is to promote skills-based hiring and development.

Lastly, the fourth pillar will strengthen the federal cybersecurity workforce, focusing on public service and the unique challenges faced by public-sector cybersecurity workers. By improving career pathways, investing in human resources capabilities and enhancing collaboration, the strategy seeks to bolster the nation’s defense against cyberthreats.

Imagine a future where cybersecurity skills are not found by chance but achieved by design and accessible to all.

Students who follow a path similar to mine can become the norm. Students at all levels uncertain about their strengths and talents could find their calling within the realm of technology and cybersecurity.

As we embark on this transformative journey, there are opportunities to further extend the potential of the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy.

How we further amplify the impact of the NCWES? Here’s my call to action:

Start early and reinforce often. Introducing concepts in elementary schools and reinforcing them throughout high school can create a cybersecurity-literate generation that’s less susceptible to common scams and threats.

Invest in promising students. Offering grants and scholarships for cybersecurity degrees in exchange for federal service can incentivize talented individuals to enter the cybersecurity field.

Bridge the pay gap. Addressing the pay gap between private and public sectors can attract more qualified individuals to public-service roles and strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity defenses.

Embrace technology. Incentivizing companies to adopt robust cybersecurity technologies, such as artificial intelligence-based solutions, can reduce the reliance on manual defense methods.

As we excitedly await the impact of the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, it’s clear that the strategy is a significant positive step toward filling the cybersecurity skills gap. It’s a call to action for governments, educators, business leaders and individuals to come together for this common cause that is essential to the resilience of our organizations and country. The journey will be challenging, but the potential and rewards are immeasurable.