We the Partnership

How one public-private partnership is closing the cybersecurity talent gap

By Brandon Lardy | October 29, 2020

The Partnership for Public Service recently launched the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative to address an emerging crisis in our country: the shortage of well-trained cybersecurity professionals.

The initiative is a first-of-its kind public-private partnership designed to reduce this talent gap. Participants work for two years at a federal agency before applying for full-time positions with the program’s private sector partners.

The program is ideal for students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in cybersecurity-related fields, such as computer science, engineering and information systems, and offers substantial student loan assistance. Overall, the initiative serves as a call to action for leading companies, federal agencies and higher education institutions to come together and develop the next generation of motivated, mission-driven cybersecurity leaders.

As we commemorate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month amid a pandemic that has made us more reliant on digital technology, organizations across the U.S. need to prepare for and safeguard against cyber threats.

Including our federal government.

The Office of Personnel Management reports that cybersecurity professionals accounted for just 5% of the federal government’s 2.1 million full-time civilian employees as of December 2019[1]. In addition, a majority of those professionals are over 50 years old and nearing retirement, while only 12% of them are under the age of 35.

Moreover, recent data shows an increasingly high demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals in the private sector, which listed nearly half a million job openings in the field between June 2019 and June 2020.

“The cyber world is the wild, wild west,” former President Obama once said, “and to some degree [the federal government] is asked to be the sheriff.”

This latest workforce data suggests that our sheriff needs a few more deputies.

Organizations in both the public and private sectors need highly skilled workers capable of handling complex cyber threats. The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is a new and innovative program that will identify and train these employees, building a critical workforce that protects our country’s digital infrastructure.

To learn more about this program, its inaugural cohort of participants, how to apply for the next cohort or how to become a corporate partner, visit cybertalentinitiative.org.

[1] Defined as all employees in the 0854, 1550, and 2210 occupational series.


Brandon Lardy