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NIST Publishes Roadmap for Regional Alliances and Partnerships to Build the Cybersecurity Workforce

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a cybersecurity education and development roadmap based on data from five pilot Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) Cybersecurity Education and Workforce Development programs.

There is a currently a global shortage of cybersecurity professionals and the problem is getting worse. Data from CyberSeek.org shows that between September 2017 and August 2018, 313,735 cybersecurity positions were open and figures from the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study indicate that by 2022, 1.8 million cybersecurity professionals will be required to fill open positions.

To help address the shortfall, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), led by NIST, provided funding for the pilot programs in September 2016. The RAMPS cybersecurity education and development pilot programs were concerned with “energizing and promoting a robust network and ecosystem of cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.”

The pilot programs involved forming regional alliances, through which the workforce needs of businesses and non-profit organizations become better aligned with the learning objectives of education and training providers, there is enlargement of the pipeline of students pursuing cybersecurity careers, more Americans are trained and moved into middle-class jobs in cybersecurity, and support is provided for local economic development to stimulate job growth.

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The main focus of the programs is bringing together employers with cybersecurity skill shortages and educators who can help to develop a skilled workforce to meet industry needs.

The pilot programs were run by: Arizona Statewide Cyber Workforce Consortium, Cincinnati-Dayton Cyber Corridor, the Cyber Prep Program in Southern Colorado, the Hampton Roads Cybersecurity Education, Workforce and Economic Development Alliance in Southeast Virginia, and the Partnership to Advance Cybersecurity Education and Training in New Your City and the Capital District.

Each of the pilot programs adopted a different approach to address the shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers in their respective regions. Some of the common challenges faced by each program were employers that were unsure of their cybersecurity needs, a disconnect between workforce supply and demand, resources for education and workforce development programs were not coordinated, and it proved difficult to retain skilled cybersecurity workers in small communities.

The roadmap was created based on the successes of each program and includes guidance on how the common challenges can be addressed and the best practices and lessons learned from conducting the pilot programs.

There are four primary components necessary to build successful alliances to promote and build the cybersecurity workforce: Establishing program goals and metrics; developing strategies and tactics; measuring impact and results; and sustaining the effort. The document provides examples of each of the activities that proved successful in the pilot programs.

The document is not intended to act as a how to guide for setting up successful regional alliances, but it will be useful to those seeking guidance on how to organize and facilitate regional efforts to improve cybersecurity education and workforce development. In order to build a successful cybersecurity education and workforce development program, local and regional experts will need to provide their input as they will be familiar with the cybersecurity needs of their communities.

The document – A Roadmap for Successful Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Build the Cybersecurity Workforce – can be downloaded from NIST on this link (PDF).

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.