“You’re not going to get a lot of diversity if you keep going back to the same pond. There’s lots of different ponds of talent out there, and if you’re only fishing from the same one, you’re going to get the same thought patterns.” -Nelson Abbott
Last month, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection brought in four tech leaders to talk about our big cybersecurity problem: the lack of people. The hearing was held to assess potential ways to increase the talent pool for cybersecurity candidates. And ensure that pipeline can satisfy the appetite of cyber incidents to come over the next few decades.
Anjelica Dortch, the Senior Director for U.S. Government Affairs at SAP America, Inc., Will Markow, the Vice President of Applied Research at Lightcast, Tara Wisniewski, the Executive Vice President for Advocacy, Global Markets, and Member Engagement at ISC2, and Col. Chris Starling (Ret.), the Executive Director for California NPower were all in attendance at the subcommittee hearing.
Joining the Security Clearance Careers podcast is Nelson Abbott, who is the Sr. Advanced Director of Program Operations. He tells us more about the subcommittee hearing, what the U.S. is doing wrong in cyber hiring, and how bootcamps like NPower’s can help talent pivot to cyber without being buried in debt.
The Committee was hoping to find new ways to speed up cyber training in the U.S. and equip our government and corporations for the growing cyber threat. Former Marine Colonel Chris Starling was among the four cyber leaders who shared his insight with the Congressional members.
What is the US is doing wrong when it comes to cybersecurity?
The problem may be a disconnect between those doing the work, those who need to be hired, and those who are writing the job descriptions. Abbott notes, “HR may be writing job descriptions for jobs they may not know very well.” It is increasingly important the HR and recruiting professionals liaise with those who know the work or know the contract.
A tale as old as time: five years of experience does not mean entry level. Unfortunately, in cybersecurity, when hiring managers say they want someone entry level, that means a few years under the belt. Abbott believes the U.S. needs to change its thinking when it comes to experience and remove the college degree requirement (or at least requiring the degree to be in CS).
Lastly, our government needs to stop recruiting for easy technical skills that can be taught, and recruit for that x factor like curiosity to learn. Especially when we have candidates that are hungry for work, but who may not be able to fork over the dough (+ time) for school. This will also help ensure our cybersecurity workforce is diverse – varied in thought, backgrounds, experience, race, and more. This is critical to solving ever-changing cybersecurity threats. “You’re not going to get a lot of diversity if you keep going back to the same pond,” Abbott says.
The subcommittee hearing
This discussion hoped to find new ways to speed up cyber training in the U.S. and equip our government and corporations for growing cyber threats. Former Marine Colonel Chris Starling was among the four cyber leaders who shared his insight with the Congressional members.
To create better cybersecurity candidate pipelines, should we create a bootcamp environment that can train veterans and young adults with cyber skills in as little as 18 weeks? Npower may be on to something.