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Organizations awarded $2 million to teach rural residents how to become cybersecurity pros amidst labor shortage

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Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As Cybersecurity Awareness Month nears an end, $2 million has been awarded to organizations working to teach rural residents how to become cybersecurity pros amidst an unprecedented workforce shortage in the industry.

In order to recruit diverse cybersecurity talent and build a workforce of the future, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says it awarded $2 million to two organizations to develop cyber workforce training programs.

NPower and CyberWarrior, organizations that have both received awards, will focus on the unemployed and underemployed; underserved communities urban and rural areas; and traditionally underserved populations including veterans, military spouses, women and people of color.

“Addressing the cyber workforce shortage requires us to proactively seek out, find, and foster prospective talent from nontraditional places. CISA is dedicated to recruiting and training individuals from all areas and all backgrounds with the aptitude and attitude to succeed in this exciting field,” said CISA Director Jen Easterly. “It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do – for the mission and the country. We’re best positioned to solve the cyber challenges facing our nation when we have a diverse range of thought bringing every perspective to the problem.”

CISA said the awards are the first of their kind and coincide with its third week of the Cybersecurity Summit themed, “Team Awesome; The Cyber Workforce.”

The Agency said this latest workforce development effort is meant to benefit communities and populations that could not currently have access to cybersecurity training programs. It said the pilot program complements its other workforce development initiatives mean to expand both the current and future pool of cyber talent, including the CYBER.org initiatives and Cyber Education and Training Assistance Program, which target grade school students and teachers, as well s partnerships with organizations like the Girl Scouts and Girls Who Code.

“CyberWarrior is honored to take part in the Cybersecurity Workforce Development and Training Pilot for Underserved Communities,” said Reinier Moquete, founder of the CyberWarrior Foundation. “Working with CISA and other stakeholders, our 28-week Bootcamp program will train persons from underserved populations for a career in cybersecurity. We encourage prospective students, employers and workforce stakeholders to reach out and join us in building opportunities for these individuals.”

CISA said the organizations will team up to develop a scalable and replicable proof of concept to successfully find and train talented people nationwide, which will help to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage America faces and plays a vital role in the dynamic and innovative needs of the cybersecurity workplace.

“NPower’s cybersecurity program offers young adults and veterans the opportunity to advance their careers and deepen their specialties. This is particularly important for individuals coming from underrepresented communities that systemically lack access to those specialized skills,” said Bertina Ceccarelli, CEO of NPower. “We are honored for the support from CISA, which will enable NPower to expand our reach to trainees across the country.”

By tapping into innovative, nontraditional job training and apprenticeship programs, CISA said the current and future cyber workforce needs will be addressed. It said the three-year program aims to :

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive cybersecurity pathways retention strategy;
  • Deliver entry-level cybersecurity training through innovative training hubs;
  • Provide hands-on and professional development experience through apprenticeships; and
  • Decrease the cybersecurity workforce shortage by placing talented individuals into entry-level cybersecurity jobs.

October is also Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management shared tips from CISA on how to be cyber safe, which include:

  • Set a strong password, change it regularly and do not share it with anyone.
  • Do not include kids’ or pets’ names or other will-known information about yourself.
  • Use a combination of lower and uppercase letters.
  • Break up works with numbers and punctuation marks or other symbols.
  • Avoid using common words in your passwords and passphrases.

For more information about career opportunities and workforce development programs at CISA, click HERE.

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