On Monday, July 31, the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) released the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy. This strategy builds upon both the broader National Cybersecurity Strategy and the National Cybersecurity Strategy Implementation Plan and includes four pillars:
1. Equip every American with foundational cyber skills;
2. Transform cyber education;
3. Expand and enhance America’s cyber workforce; and
4. Strengthen the federal cyber workforce.
This strategy focuses on equipping all Americans with foundational cyber skills and asks all stakeholders - industry, government, and academia – to actively create pathways to reskill and upskill America’s current and future workforce. At an Atlantic Council event that same day, Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden emphasized the economic and societal imperative that every American be presented with the opportunity to pursue a career in cyber. She explained that demonstrating skills through certifications, apprenticeships, or community college degrees must be the standard to break down barriers to entry into the cyber field for underrepresented and underserved communities.
Every day the world is rapidly becoming more interconnected, and having a population equipped with cybersecurity skills, literacy, and awareness is more critical than ever. From telecommunication systems to the electrical grid and beyond, the essential services the country depends on daily do not have the latitude to go offline without severe consequences to the communities they serve. With that comes a clear recognition that while workforce issues exist across sectors, there are unique and often divergent needs between the Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) sectors, both of which must be addressed. Therefore, as new programs, curricula, and best practices are developed, OT-specific needs must be prioritized, and an interoperable, standards-based approach to OT cybersecurity education and workforce development must be taken.
The Operational Technology Cybersecurity Coalition looks forward to developing and promoting effective OT cybersecurity policy solutions as the workforce strategy objectives are realized.