US Department of Labor Announces the Promotion of Cybersecurity Apprenticeships

Photograph of The White House from the back garden.
The summit held on Tuesday expressed the need for new cybersecurity apprenticeships.

On Tuesday, July 19, 2022, the US Department of Labor announced a sprint to promote cybersecurity apprenticeships. This initiative aims to fight the dangerous lack of expertise in cybersecurity .

This was all discussed at the National Cyber Workforce and Education summit the White House organized on Tuesday. This summit also dealt with the current cybersecurity issues. There, the Biden-Harris administration announced their plans to tackle the cybersecurity talent shortage.

Overall, we can mention 3 main takeaways from the summit and the announcement: 

  1. The US economy requires approximately 700,000 cybersecurity jobs
  2. Cybersecurity-related fields have  42,260 apprentices 
  3. The 120-day sprint will focus on creating new educational pathways

The administration can promote new cybersecurity expertise in a few direct ways. However, the main method will be education, hence the cybersecurity apprenticeships.

The White House announced they will be focusing on education from K-12 to higher education. This will allow the government to expand programs in cybersecurity fields. This move will also allow the education of new junior cybersecurity experts. In turn, these individuals will soon grow into the necessary roles.

Recognizing the Lack of Cybersecurity Experts

The rise in the need for cybersecurity talent has been relatively constant for the last two decades. However, the shift began with the lockdowns. Companies now realize they need cybersecurity talent in the new economy.

Cyberattacks have cost the global economy approximately $6.0 trillion in 2021. Additionally, this number is expected to grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. By comparison, the cybercrime sector globally would make the third largest global economy, just behind the United States and China.

In many ways, cybercrime has become a bigger issue than the major instances of crime.

Because of this, all major companies need to stay safe from cybercrime. And this also applies to small and medium-sized enterprises. Cybercriminals exploit security loopholes. As a result, it is necessary to have robust cybersecurity talent. Otherwise, you cannot protect your business.

Some companies, like IBM, have already started finding ways to secure new talent. Additionally, more than 120 new cybersecurity apprenticeship programs have been made in 2021. That is a 28% rise from 2020.

Companies need to fill their cybersecurity positions. Otherwise, any company in any industry will be open to losses. In addition, more companies are moving their work into the digital sphere. This will only make these attacks more likely as time goes by.

Photograph of a person in a green shirt pointing out something at the computer to two people sitting down.
Cybersecurity apprenticeships are at the moment the best ways to make new experts.

Cybersecurity Apprenticeship, a Road to Expertise

The easiest way to become proficient in cybersecurity is through practice. Regular education will teach you the general approaches and security sectors. It will also showcase the known solutions. However, these details become obsolete quickly. By the time the student graduates, the solutions will be irrelevant.

This is why cybersecurity apprenticeships help new experts gain knowledge. Here, future experts familiarize themselves with practical applications. And they certainly study the general, theoretical solutions.

These apprenticeships help students follow established experts. Students will also apply some of the information they have learned from the get-go. As a result, they can learn about cybersecurity intricacies in general. They will also see the specifics of the industry they would be protecting.

In a May Senate hearing,  the United States Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) established that industries, such as healthcare, are under intense attack by cybercriminals. In fact, cybercriminals are conducting these attacks through well-known vulnerabilities. Unfortunately,  healthcare providers do not have the experts to protect against these exploits.

Similar issues are affecting industries such as distribution, oil and gas, and retail. And this has increased due to the number of businesses turning to online sales. In these situations, experts will need to know the different angles of attack. It will not be enough to have general cybersecurity knowledge.

Supporting the Creation of Jobs

Most of the 42,260 currently active apprentices will find a job when they reach a journeyman title. Although companies are fighting to find senior-level experts, a novice is better than no security.

Both the US Department of Labor and Commerce and the Biden administration  believe that a focus on creating new cybersecurity specialists will promote the creation of jobs in the United States.

According to Moody’s Investor Service, the administration’s policies helped create over 4 million jobs last year. And this is despite the current economic slump. However, few of those jobs are in the tech or IT sectors. The main focus is on local production and retail.

The shift in focus toward a specialized IT niche is not a turn from these policies. It is an extension, according to the United States Secretary of Commerce, Gina M. Raimondo. Raimondo also led the summit on Tuesday. 

Focusing on new carrier pathways will probably not solve the issue immediately. The growth of the need for specialists still outpaces the supply. But the industries at risk should be able to secure positions that will prevent losses in the coming years.

Photograph of Gina M. Raimondo, the United States Secretary of Commerce since 2021.
The leader of the summit, Gina M. Raimondo, explained that this action will work in accordance with the Build Back Better platform.

No Single Solution to the Problem

The federal government and large stakeholders are working to establish new cybersecurity expertise. However, cybersecurity apprenticeships alone will not solve the cybersecurity problem.

The key is to understand that cybercrime as a phenomenon does not have solutions. Rather, we must keep up with the advancements in attack angles and vectors.

In the new economy, all employees and entrepreneurs must  be familiar with the risks. They must also find ways to ensure the safety of their data and the data of their partners, customers, and consumers.

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