– The Biden-Harris Administration unveiled the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES), aimed at reducing cyber workforce gaps and empowering individuals to enter the cyber workforce. The NCWES follows the release of the National Cybersecurity Strategy (NCS), issued in March, which outlined a plan for addressing cyber threats, defending critical infrastructure, and investing in a resilient cyber future.

As previously reported, the effects of the cybersecurity workforce shortage have impacted health care along with other sectors. Workforce shortages can result in employee burnout and may allow cyber threats to slip through the cracks, endangering patient data and operations.

The NCWES aims to tackle these risks by investing in cyber education and strengthening the workforce via federal collaboration and public-private partnerships. The strategy is divided into four pillars: equip every American with foundational cyber skills, transform cyber education, expand and enhance the national cyber workforce, and strengthen the federal cyber workforce.

In addition, the strategy placed an emphasis on increasing diversity and inclusion in the cybersecurity field and empowering individuals from underrepresented communities to pursue careers in the field.

“We must support the development of a strong cyber workforce. That cyber workforce has to meet the demand that we have all heard about in filling hundreds of thousands of cyber job vacancies. That’s a national security imperative, an economic imperative, a human security imperative, but it also is an opportunity for good-paying middle-class jobs,” Camille Stewart Gloster, deputy national cyber director, technology and ecosystem security at the Office of the National Cyber Director within the White House, noted in a press briefing attended by HealthITSecurity.

“And one of the things you probably have seen in the National Cybersecurity Strategy release was these major shifts that we were embarking on and moving towards an affirmative vision of a thriving digital ecosystem that is secure, resilient, and reflects our values. And to do that, we needed a strategy that not only could meet the demands and the deficits that we have seen today, but could also move forward and be agile enough to address the challenges of tomorrow and make sure we had the workforce and the education apparatus that could be agile and responsive to that changing set of needs and demands.”

A variety of government and private sector organizations announced financial commitments to the NCWES. For example, The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $24 million in CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) awards over the next four years at seven academic institutions. NSF’s latest investment builds on a $29 million investment announced earlier this year.

The National Security Agency (NSA) announced four grants within its National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program to support a pilot initiative enabling the creation of four new Cyber Clinics at four colleges and universities. These clinics will provide more than 200 studnets with the opportunity to develop a variety of cybersecurity competencies.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Labor (DOL), and other agencies also announced significant investments in the NCWES. Additionally, organizations such as Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS), the Cybersafe Foundation, and SANS Institute pledged to develop resources and facilitate career opportunities.

In addition to encouraging more Americans to join the cybersecurity workforce, the NCWES also aims to equip all individuals with foundational cyber skills that are crucial to navigating the digital world.

“We recognize that in our current environment, reading, writing, arithmetic, or the traditional skillset that folks need to operate in our society. And quite frankly, we are seeing that technology as it underpins increasingly everything that we do, our access to services, we all must have a set of foundational cyber skills to thrive and to build and to engage and to get jobs across the workforce,” Gloster stated.

“We must leverage and engage every segment of our economy to affect change at scale. That means bringing every person into the cyber workforce and creating opportunities to do so.”

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