Despite the burgeoning demand for cyber professionals with the skills necessary to address the increasingly complex and ever-evolving cybersecurity threats facing the nation, the cyber talent gap in the United States—and indeed across the entire globe—continues to grow.
According to a report by Burning Glass, the supply of skilled cyber professionals is not keeping pace with the demand. Job postings for cybersecurity openings have grown three times as fast as openings for IT jobs overall. In fact, between 2010 and 2014, cybersecurity job postings increased by 91 percent.
Chase Norlin, CEO of Transmosis, told Homeland Security Today that cybersecurity employers are not connected to the workforce. This disconnect is significantly contributing to the current talent gap. The state and federal funding and resources are available, but are not being directed towards industry-driven training for future cybersecurity professionals.
To help close the cybersecurity skills gap, Transmosis, a for-profit workforce intermediary, is attempting to better connect the dots between government and industry by ensuring that state and federal resources are directed towards workforce training designed to meet the needs of industry.
The company recently received a grant called The California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) Grant from the Community College Chancellor’s Office to define, develop, and deploy a cybersecurity apprenticeship program. Norlin said Transmosis will work back from the employer to find how they want potential employees to be trained.
Employers in the program benefit from subsidized training and administrative costs and apprentices are trained to their specific needs, resulting in greater employee retention. Essentially, the apprenticeship program serves as a talent pipeline for industry.
Partners in the grant consortium include the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Cisco, Symantec, Palo Alto Networks, Xilinx, workforce investment boards, and the Division of Apprenticeship Standards.
“There is so much money pouring in to workforce development, but it is not moving the needle,” said Norlin. “Just look at the gap in jobs in cybersecurity alone. Something is clearly wrong here. What we have determined is there very little connection to industry. So, you have got all this money pouring in, but the government, or system, is not helping industry solve this skills gap or talent pipeline problem.”
Norlin continued, “We have everything ready to go here. We have employers in growing fields like cybersecurity, we have people with transferrable skills, educational institutions, for and non-profit institutions, and $600 million a year alone coming from the federal government into the California workforce board system. So, all the pieces are there, but it is just not working.”
Through this new cybersecurity apprenticeship program, Transmosis aims to serve as the bridge between government and industry and also between industry and the workforce.
The program is available to everyone—from stay-at-home moms to veterans to students—but is particularly geared towards individuals who are looking for a change and have transferrable skills, as well as the time to go through this process and work their way up.
“Apprenticeship programs typically exist in the building trades or related fields. In the United States, it is a very new and innovative thing to have an apprenticeship in the information technology sector,” Norlin explained. He noted that other countries, however, have seen the value of apprenticeships. In Germany, for example, more than half of graduates participated in an apprenticeship in 2014.
“We are here to build a pipeline for industry. We work back from an employer-driven model by asking industry what they need in terms of best-of breed training so that we can frontload that for them as paid for through the state through these state and federal dollars,” Norlin added.
In addition to the CAI grant, Transmosis is a two-time recipient of the Workforce Accelerator Fund and the co-recipient of the Career Pathways Trust grant awarded by the State of California Dept. of Education. Through these awards and grants, the company hopes to play a major role in solving the cyber professional shortage.
“We applaud the Chancellor’s office and Division of Workforce and Economic Development for pioneering this initiative”, said Chase Norlin, CEO of Transmosis. “Connecting industry with job seekers through apprenticeships and on-the-job training is the essence of public private collaboration that we need to see more of in this country.”