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New Bill Aims to Address Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

A bill introduced last week by U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) aims to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage through a grant for apprenticeship programs.

The new bill, called the Cyber Ready Workforce Act, is inspired by Nevada’s recently introduced cybersecurity apprenticeship program. This new piece of legislation would help establish a program within the Department of Labor for awarding grants, on a competitive basis, to workforce intermediaries.

The goal is to create, implement and expand cybersecurity apprenticeship programs. Apprentices will benefit from support services that include career counseling, mentorship, and assistance with housing, transportation and child care costs.

Programs eligible for grants can include ones providing technical instruction, workplace training, and certifications for support specialists, support technicians, programmers, cybersecurity specialists, and system analysts.

“The demand for talent in cybersecurity is sky-high, and we’re putting ourselves at risk if we don’t address this shortage in our workforce,” said Congresswoman Rosen. “I’m committed to ensuring that businesses and government have the skilled people and critical tools they need to enhance our nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure, help industry thrive, and strengthen our national security. Everything we do in today’s economy is shaped by technology, and I will continue to work with my House colleagues to ensure our families and communities are better protected against cyber threats.”

The initiative is backed by several lawmakers in Massachusetts and New York, and organizations such as the CompTIA tech association and The Learning Center.

“Investing in and expanding our cybersecurity workforce doesn’t only fuel our economy, it keeps us safe,” said Congressman Seth Moulton. “While I was fighting on the ground in Iraq, Al-Qaeda was fighting us on the internet — and they were beating us online! And while we focused on Russia’s military in 2016, they attacked us through the internet. This bill is an important first step towards making sure we don’t get ourselves into such a vulnerable position again.”

The bill introduced by Rep. Rosen, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, cites NIST’s CyberSeek, which shows that there are more than 300,000 cybersecurity job openings at the moment.

Related: NIST Publishes Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

Related: Are You Securing Your Contract Workforce?

Related: White House Announces TechHire Initiative to Boost IT Workforce

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.