Federal and private sector commitments demonstrate progress building the nation’s cybersecurity workforce through skills-based hiring.

Skills-based hiring gets a push at the federal level

Commitments from the federal government and private sector demonstrate progress building the nation’s cybersecurity workforce

Key points:

This press release originally appeared online.

In late April, the White House Office of the National Cyber Director hosted a first-of-its-kind convening at the White House where representatives from more than 30 companies and institutions representing a dozen industries committed to expand opportunities for Americans and build a strong cyber workforce.

The event focused on creating pathways for more Americans to enter the growing field of cybersecurity through practices like skills-based hiring and earn-and-learn opportunities such as apprenticeships. More than 500,000 cybersecurity positions are currently open across the country.

The National Cyber Director announced that the Biden-Harris Administration is leading by example and will overhaul the federal hiring process to become fully skills-based for an entire series of technical employees. Thanks to work by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government will transition the Information Technology Management series, called the 2210 series, to skills-based hiring principles and practices.  The 2210 job series represents IT workers in every federal agency and a majority of the federal IT workforce accounting for nearly 100,000 current federal employees. The framework announced today will take effect next summer.

“The transition to skills-based hiring presents several compelling advantages for both employers and job seekers. From an economic perspective, this approach allows companies to tap into a broader talent pool, enhancing their capacity to fill critical roles, especially in the burgeoning tech sector,” said Tony Galati, CEO of MyComputerCareer, in a statement. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15 percent increase in computer and information technology occupations by 2031, translating to nearly 700,000 new jobs. Skills-based hiring enables organizations to meet this demand more efficiently by focusing on the practical abilities required for these roles.”

Galati continued: “For individuals, the emphasis on skills over degrees opens up new pathways to employment and career advancement. This is particularly relevant in today’s job market, where the ability to adapt and acquire new competencies is increasingly valued. Skills-based hiring also has the potential to open access to well-paying jobs, some of which are in cybersecurity, reducing barriers for non-degree holders and creating more equitable employment opportunities.”

Additionally, the federal government is making a similar commitment to federal contractors who work shoulder-to-shoulder supporting federal employees every day, beginning with an announcement from the Department of Energy on their effort to pivot towards skills-based hiring in IT and cyber contracts.

“Today marks an important moment in the vital work to build the Nation’s cybersecurity workforce, a mission that is imperative to our national security and our economic prosperity in our increasingly digital world,” said National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. “Thanks to a lot of work across federal agencies, we’re leading by example, ensuring that more Americans will have access to cybersecurity jobs in the Federal Government whether they are an employee or a contractor. I’m equally as pleased to see a whole new set of private sector companies from more than a dozen industries publicly highlight their efforts to expand our national cyber workforce. We need cybersecurity talent in every industry. Today we demonstrate the true value that our office – ONCD – can bring facilitating a nation-wide effort to skill-based hiring demonstrating partnership, collaboration and a dedication to building the talent pipeline and open opportunities to good paying jobs in cybersecurity.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to recruiting the best talent for in-demand federal positions,” said OPM Deputy Director Rob Shriver. “Skills-based hiring is a key priority, particularly with the emergence of new technologies like AI and machine learning. Americans with the right skills should have the chance to join the federal workforce, regardless of how they gained those skills.”

“The President’s Investing in America Agenda is rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, revitalizing American manufacturing, and creating a clean energy renaissance – and cyber security underpins our success in each critical sector. Skills-based hiring and quality job training programs, including earn-and-learn registered apprenticeship programs, will help us build the workforce that the cyber industry needs,” said White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden.

Skills-based hiring opens up opportunities to workers who have learned skills in programs like apprenticeships and other training programs rather than relying solely on two or four-year college degree requirements. The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized expanding registered apprenticeships and has invested $440 million in related programs. In March 2024, President Biden signed an Executive Order to expand registered apprenticeship programs in the Federal Government. Thanks to a registered apprenticeship sprint for cybersecurity workers, more than 7,000 individuals were hired into a paid apprenticeship role across the nation.

Last July, ONCD published President Biden’s National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy addressing the short- and long-term needs to fill the hundreds of thousands of cyber job vacancies across our nation, a national security imperative as the Biden-Harris Administration is making generational investments to prepare our country to lead in the digital economy. ONCD has been leading the efforts to transition to skills-based hiring for cyber jobs in both public and private sectors.

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Laura Ascione

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