On July 21, 2022, the White House released a “Fact Sheet” summarizing progress made during a National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit. The Fact Sheet also announced several initiatives being taken by the Biden-Harris Administration as well as by for-profit and not-for-profit businesses. Businesses should consider taking advantage of the initiatives, which offer federally-supported, free, and/or reduced-cost tools for improving cybersecurity.
120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint. Of perhaps most interest is a cross-agency-sponsored Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint. For 120 days (ending in mid-November), businesses are encouraged to work with the Department of Labor, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, and pre-existing apprenticeship programs to hire cybersecurity apprentices.
The apprentices receive paid employment and on-the-job training while completing academic courses. As part of the program, employers commit to a wage progression as the apprentice gains new skills. In return, employers develop a pipeline to hire and retain a skilled, productive, and diverse workforce that tends to be more stable. For example, one case study suggests that 93% of apprentices will accept full-time employment with their employer post-apprenticeship, and another suggests that post-apprenticeship employees turnover with less frequency than non-apprentices. Apprenticeship programs have succeeded at large businesses like Accenture, which announced in the Fact Sheet its plans to hire 20% of its entry-level roles directly from its apprenticeship program.
Employers have the option to leverage already established programs or create their own. Two apprenticeship programs already exist in Wisconsin, conducted by the MKE Tech Coalition and the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. Using the Apprenticeship Finder tool can help you identify other already-established programs near you. If building their own program, employers can team up with established partners who serve as intermediaries to manage the employer’s apprenticeship program.
Free Training and Certification Opportunities. For businesses with an already-established cybersecurity or IT team that could benefit from upskilling, there are several free training and certification opportunities that employees can participate in. (ISC)², a nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals, has pledged to give 1,000,000 people its entry-level education program and certification exam (called the “Certified in Cybersecurity” program) for free. The Linux Foundation is offering a 15-hour Developing Secure Software training and certification program.
Free Multi-Factor Authentication Guide. The Cyber Readiness Institute has released a free guide to assist small and medium-sized businesses in implementing multi-factor authentication (or “MFA”). MFA is one of the best available methods to increase your business’s cybersecurity at a relatively low cost.
If you or your business need guidance in navigating these programs, building your employee team, or developing digital privacy and cybersecurity policies (including implementing MFA), Godfrey & Kahn’s attorneys are ready to assist. We have devoted Labor & Employment and Data Privacy & Cybersecurity practice groups who routinely assist clients with these and other similar issues.