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Demystifying the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES)

The United States has recently experienced a significant shift in its cyber security landscape, thanks to the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES) initiative. Launched by the White House under the Biden Administration, this program addresses the nation’s acute shortage of qualified cyber professionals. This endeavor constitutes a part of the administration’s broader plan of fostering ‘generational investments’ to prepare the nation for leading the digital economy.

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The Objective of NCWES

The primary purpose of NCWES is to inspire and enable every American citizen to make a career in the cyber environment. It provides an array of career opportunities in the sector to bridge the gaping void of unoccupied cyber positions. The qualification for these positions ranges from certificates to community college degrees, making it accessible to a broad spectrum of the population.

A Collaborative Approach

Underpinning the NCWES is a collaborative approach that involves various non-governmental stakeholders, including private industry, academia, non-profits, and government partners. Upon its launch, nearly 40 entities had committed their support to this initiative, reflecting a wide-reaching commitment to the national cyber strategy.

This effort involves extensive stakeholder participation to bring about change on a large scale. The administration emphasizes that each participant, including educators, the industry, and the government, must effectively execute the objectives laid out in this strategy.

Guiding Principles and Core Pillars of NCWES

Like the National Cybersecurity Strategy released by the Biden Administration, the NCWES is founded upon three ‘guiding imperatives’ and four ‘pillars.’

The guiding imperatives are:

  1. NCWES is a nationwide effort to stimulate, support, and scale local ecosystems for cyber education and workforce development.
  2. It aims to equip all Americans with basic cyber skills needed to navigate daily life while providing those in the cyber workforce with specialized skills that evolve with their careers.
  3. The initiative seeks to grow and enhance the cyber workforce through improved diversity and inclusion, viewing a diverse workforce as a strategic advantage that broadens the pool of eligible workers and fosters innovative problem-solving.

The four pillars of the NCWES are:

  1. Equip all Americans with basic cyber skills to reap the benefits of an interconnected society, make learning opportunities available, and encourage the pursuit of cyber careers.
  2. Transform cyber education to address the immediate demand for a skilled cyber workforce and prepare learners for a dynamic technological environment.
  3. Expand and enhance the National Cyber Workforce by collaborating with various stakeholders, promoting skills-based hiring, and increasing access to cyber jobs for all Americans, including underserved and underrepresented groups.
  4. Strengthen the Federal Cyber Workforce by communicating the benefits of public service careers, attracting and hiring a qualified and diverse workforce, and investing in human resources capabilities.

Endorsement by Cybersecurity Experts

Several cybersecurity experts have praised the NCWES program. Sherron Burgess, Cyversity strategy vice president, appreciates the Biden Administration’s ecosystem-focused approach. She noted that this innovative strategy was instrumental in transforming cyber education and engaging underrepresented groups through new and existing initiatives.

Candy Alexander, ISSA International president, also lauded the administration’s strategy, citing the collaboration between educational institutions, government programs, corporate organizations, and the cyber association communities as pivotal in bridging the gap between education and employment.

Conclusion

Launching the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES) is a promising step toward establishing the U.S. as a leader in the digital economy. Through a strong collaborative approach and a strategic focus on education and inclusivity, this initiative aims to close the significant gap in the nation’s cyber workforce. By bringing together educators, government, and private industry, the NCWES paints a promising picture for the future of American cybersecurity.

As we continue to witness the development and execution of this strategy, all stakeholders must continue to align their efforts to achieve the shared goal of fostering a robust, diverse, and well-equipped cyber workforce for the nation.

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