Navy IT Official: We Need to Look Beyond Hard Tech Skills

TCmakephoto/Shutterstock.com

Deputy CIO Janice Haith said recruiting hasn’t yet evolved to include people who understand cyber, but aren’t necessarily engineers.

The Navy is struggling to recruit and retain cyber talent, especially when salaries aren’t competitive with the private sector, according to Deputy CIO Janice Haith.

Her team is trying to take advantage of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s tech programs in Silicon Valley, especially by sending employees for training there, Haith said at a panel in Washington on Thursday. But “when we put people in Silicon Valley … we lose them, we can’t always get them back,” she added. 

Haith said the Navy needs to start thinking more creatively about recruiting.

”We don’t do it as well as we could or should,” she said, noting that she thought the department should also hire people with broader skill sets, not just those with technical training. That will help fill positions but also add diverse problem-solving skills, she said. 

“To focus solely on people that have computer science degrees … is not the right model,” she said. “One of the challenges we have is the personnel system hasn’t caught up with that thought process.”

For instance, when searching for a candidate for a systems-engineering related job, recruiters generally assume the candidate must be a trained systems engineer.

“Maybe it doesn’t," she said. "Maybe it can be someone that has that skill set."