Pentagon unveils cyber workforce strategy to tackle labor shortage

FILE – The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington, March 2, 2022. Defense officials tell Congress that the military services are still reviewing possible discipline of troops who refused the order to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The Department of Defense on Thursday released its cyber workforce strategy aimed at increasing and improving its labor force by recruiting, training and retaining the best talent.

The strategy outlined several goals the department plans to implement in the coming months, including closing workforce development gaps, keeping up with technological advances — like AI, cyber, secure software development, quantum computing, advanced cryptography and zero-trust — as well as deliver resilient systems in a secure and rapid way.

Some of the other initiatives include establishing an enterprise-wide talent management program to keep up with current and future needs, and fostering collaboration with other government agencies, industry leaders, academia and allied nations.

“The department will attract, train and promote a workforce with the skills and abilities we need to creatively solve national security challenges in a complex global environment,” said Mark Gorak, principal director for resources & analysis for the Department of Defense, during a briefing call with reporters. 

The Pentagon’s strategy comes amid a rise in cyberattacks, particularly ransomware, targeting critical sectors such as the healthcare industry.

The strategy also follows President Biden’s national cyber strategy which outlines measures the administration will take to secure the nation’s cybersecurity ecosystem. 

Gorak told reporters that the country is dealing with a shortage of cyber workers across industries in the public and private sector. 

He said that on the military side of the agency, there’s more of an issue with retention than recruiting cyber workers compared to the civilian side which has a problem with both.

“I think the challenge here is a global challenge and specifically a national challenge of how do we create more talent, specifically in the cyber domain,” Gorak said. 

Workforce shortages in the cyber sector has been a long-running issue that both the public and private sector have tried to address. 

Other government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have also taken steps to close the labor shortage gap. 

In 2021, the agency conducted a 60-day hiring sprint to hire cybersecurity professionals. Out of the 500 job offers DHS sent out, the department was able to hire nearly 300 new cyber workers.

“It was the largest single hiring event we’ve had so far,” a DHS cyber official told lawmakers last year

Cyber experts previously told The Hill that there’s recently been a growing demand for cyber workers both in the private and public sector, which they attributed to recent events such as the invasion of Ukraine, the 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the 2020 SolarWinds hack.

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