Top government officials agree that far more cybersecurity professionals are needed to defend the nations networks and solve one of its most pressing issues: hiring and retaining a qualified cyber workforce.
But defining exactly what those roles are and what skills are needed is the challenging part.
“That’s really the issues,” said Nancy Kichak, associate director of strategic human resource policy at the Office of Personnel Management at the Executive Leadership Conference on Tuesday. “Despite the fact that we all use the terminology cybersecurity, just what does it mean? And how do you definite it, and how do you identify these special skills that the cyber workforce has?
Kichak said the government is still determining whether it can hire cyber professionals under the current pay structure and what job positions comprise the cybersecurity workforce.
OPM hopes a recent cybersecurity survey, which wrapped up this month, will help answer those questions. The survey looked at critical tasks and competencies for cybersecurity workers. The agency also led focus groups for human resource managers.
“A lot of people want to be cyber security, but do they have the right training and skills to claim the right occupation, Kichak said.”
Short term, agencies need to offer job training for the current workforce and hone their skills, said David Wennergren, assistant deputy chief management officer in the Secretary of Defense’s office.
Agencies must also attract and invest in younger talent early on by offering scholarship programs and internship opportunities, Wennergren said.