A pair of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to create a grant program at the Department of Education to add cybersecurity into career and technical education curriculums.
Reps. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinDem rep: I may not have made it to Congress without Bush signing ADA Watchdog exposes Pentagon’s cyber struggles Primary season cyberattacks illuminate campaign vulnerabilities MORE (D-R.I.) and Glenn ThompsonGlenn (G.T.) W. ThompsonThis week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush Ingredients for successful prison reform are all here, if politics-as-usual doesn’t spoil the batter Lawmakers clash over future of coal MORE (R-Pa.), who serve as co-chairmen of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, said their bill would help promote an area of education that they see as lacking.
The grants, which would be capped at $500,000 for each fiscal year, would be awarded on a competitive basis to partnerships between educational institutions and local employers that can show how they will incorporate cybersecurity education addressing critical infrastructure functions, such as the power grid.
Studies vary on the extent of the cybersecurity labor gap. Some estimate that roughly 300,000 positions in the field remain unfilled over a lack of qualified applicants, and it’s projected that the number could reach 1 million in the future if the gap isn’t addressed.
Langevin, the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said in a statement that workers who handle vital online networks need to have better training, “particularly in safety critical industries where lives can be put in jeopardy by malicious cyber actors.”
“These operators have a strong culture of safety, and we need to make sure emerging cyber threats are included in that culture,” he continued. “They are the first line of defense, and our bill ensures they will have the skills they need to keep us safe.”
And Thompson called it “paramount” to create a workforce “to meet the technical demands our country is facing now – and in the future.”
“By enabling our next generation of learners to have the most sophisticated and comprehensive educational programs out there, we will be better prepared to protect our most critical systems and assets,” he said in a statement.
A report from New America released earlier this year called for the creation of a Cybersecurity Civilian Corps within the Department of Homeland Security.
Top DHS cybersecurity official Jeanette Manfra backed the idea at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event shortly after the proposal was released, adding that the department is considering different options to help generate a more qualified workforce.