The government is counting on education, financial incentives, and minority outreach to help expand the cybersecurity workforce.

The Office of Personnel Management created a Strategic Recruitment for Cybersecurity Model to complement the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy, which was released last year, and plans to release the details of the model on July 25. OPM also plans to host a Cybersecurity Recruitment Ideation Challenge, during which participants from Federal agencies will generate, develop, and share ideas and potential steps to implement the recruitment model in their respective agencies.

OMB released a memorandum July 12, 2016, on the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy, which included information on how agencies are identifying cybersecurity workforce needs, expanding the cybersecurity workforce through education, and hiring and retaining skilled talent.

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The memorandum said that Federal agencies are educating human resources and chief information officer staff about the workforce strategy, expanding cybersecurity position coding to include more work roles that are aligned with cybersecurity vacancies, and working with the private sector to explore trends and anticipate future workforce needs.

OMB found that agencies need to collaborate with academic institutions to address cyber skill gaps by building curriculums that institutions can consult and adopt, and provide resources to academic institutions to accelerate and expand cybersecurity education.

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber (CAE) plans to establish financial incentives and grants for students who study cybersecurity in college.

“Federal agencies must engage in strategic recruitment and awareness campaigns, and pursue individuals with cyber talent who, historically, may not have sought out government careers,” the memorandum said.

These individuals include women, who make up less than 25 percent of the current cyber workforce, according to the Office of Personnel Management. The government should also continue to recruit minorities who make up 32 percent of the government cyber workforce compared to 35 percent of the overall civilian workforce.

OMB also recommended that agencies create clear career paths, and grade progressions for cybersecurity professionals in order for them to move up in the Federal government. A team of OPM officials found that while a “myriad” of talent development opportunities exist, many government cybersecurity professionals aren’t aware of or don’t have access to the opportunities.

“The long-term success of this strategy requires concerted attention, innovation, and resources. The initiatives discussed in this strategy represent a meaningful first step toward engaging Federal and non-Federal stakeholders, and the first step toward providing the resources necessary to establish, strengthen, and grow a pipeline of cybersecurity talent well into the future,” the memorandum stated.

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.