CISO Compass: Help is on the way to fill our cyber skills gap

Dear Washingtonians!

I was excited to see Whatcom Community College (WCC) in Bellingham featured at a recent cybersecurity conference held by the White House in Washington D.C.

The college's National Cybersecurity Training and Education Center (NCyTE) was recognized by the White House for the work it's doing to increase the number of people pursuing careers in cybersecurity. There are currently more than 460,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S.- a number that demonstrates the growing demand for skilled professionals to protect the nation.

The college was recently awarded a $7.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand cybersecurity education pathways, develop and implement leading-edge curriculums, cultivate industry engagement and career opportunities, and support faculty and leadership development in cybersecurity education.

That grant and other efforts show the federal government is making the cybersecurity workforce gap a major area of focus. Creating more cybersecurity professionals, training them with the right skills and preparing them for the sea of job openings is vital to our overall security posture.

Here's why: When organizations hear about the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, their first reaction is "Oh, we're going to have trouble filling our job openings."

The reality is much worse. The skills gap is impacting our hiring and it is impacting the multitude of vendors we do business with. There are empty seats on both sides. The compounding effect creates a serious security issue that must be addressed.

That's why the work that NCyTE is doing is so vital. I believe it will be a boon to cybersecurity and help us close the gap.

Over the last eight years, the center has achieved national recognition for its work. Corrinne Sande, director and principal investigator of NCyTE, has said the NSF grant will increase their ability to improve the quality of college cybersecurity programs, update skills and knowledge of faculty through academies, and expand trainings and partnerships with industry.

I'm very grateful for their presence in Washington state and my office looks forward to partnering with them in the future.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas and look forward to our continuing partnership to serve this great state. Thank you for all that you are doing.

Vinod Brahmapuram

State Chief Information Security Officer