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Biden-Harris Administration Announces National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy

8/02/2023

Strategy Recognizes Leveraging Standards to Achieve National Goals

To position the U.S. as a leader in the digital economy and to help fill immediate and long-term national cyber workforce needs, the Biden-Harris Administration this week announced its National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES). The strategy—which seeks to transform cyber education—recognizes leveraging standards to support safe and secure learning environments.

Amid an acceleration of various technologies, including cloud computing, AI, machine learning, virtual reality, quantum computing and others, the NCWES will help to ensure that various cyber workforce needs are met.

“Frontier technologies that can address climate change, secure our nation, and advance the health and welfare of communities are creating a demand for early career and historically untapped talent,” said Kemba Eneas Walden, Acting National Cyber Director, in a White House statement. “We must align these jobs of tomorrow to our approaches to skilling. However, there are structural challenges to building our cyber workforce and education system: hundreds of thousands of vacant cyber jobs; an insufficiently diverse workforce to fill those jobs; and barriers to accessing cyber education and training.”

The strategy leverages generational investments including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act to achieve its pillars of goals: 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.

Strategy Recognizes Standards to Support and Advance Education Goals, Cyber Skills

The NCWES provides details on how it aims to leverage standards to achieve its goals, noting that the administration will coordinate with the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM, led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and departments and agencies to maximize federal investments in foundational cyber skills and foster alignment to existing standards and frameworks.

Furthermore, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with support from Office of the National Cyber Director, in addition to relevant civil society organizations, will actively participate in international convenings to develop standards and frameworks related to the development of foundational cyber skills.

According to Pillar 2: Transform Cyber Education, the NCWES will explore ways to encourage ecosystem stakeholders to integrate cybersecurity—including security by design, threat modeling, memory safe languages, privacy, standards, ethics, and other elements of cybersecurity—into computer science, software engineering, operational technology, and related college courses, as well as K-12 education, boot camps, employer-led training, and other forms of cyber education.

The strategy also recognizes how standards can help assure safe learning environments. “Ecosystem stakeholders are encouraged to explore ways to ensure that the systems used in K-12 education protect learners from harmful content and harassment. For example, technology companies can proactively pursue industry standards and actions to advance safe and secure learning environments,” the strategy asserts.

Access the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy.

Related coverage: Implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act: New Paper Series Addresses Execution of Key Legislation; Standards Setting and Workforce Development Explored in this Four-Part Series

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