Federal CIO: Agencies Already Tracking Future Cyber Reskilling Graduates

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Agencies are already interested in hiring the future graduates, according to Suzette Kent.

Some agencies are already calling dibs on the graduates of the first federal reskilling program, the federal chief information officer said Monday.

“We have some agencies who have already signed up, saying ‘I’ll take two graduates,’ ‘I’ll take one,’ ‘I’ll take three,’” Suzette Kent said as she offered reporters new details around the program that “don’t fit in a tweet.”

First announced last November, the Cyber Reskilling Academy is a first-of-its-kind program led by the CIO Council’s Workforce Committee and the Education Department. It will essentially provide a crash course in cyber skills for people who already work for the federal government.

Of the more than 1,500 initial applicants, Kent said Monday at the ServiceNow Federal Summit that the 25 who are chosen could serve in cyber defense roles within agencies—an area she said the government is adamant to fill, due to a large skills gap and a large number of unfilled job openings.

“If we can self-source with people who are already inside of the federal government, they already have proper security clearances, they come with some level of subject matter and knowledge and we don’t have to go through that whole external sourcing process, it’s a win-win-win across the board, for the employee, for the agencies and then also across the board for the federal workforce,” Kent said.  

She also said the preliminary application and assessment results are promising.

“We think there are a lot of people who are interested and we think there are a lot of people who have the capabilities,” she said.

Applicants will be notified on selection in April and, if chosen, complete training that lasts through mid-July. She said her team is excited to see people go through the entire life cycle of the process and how they’ll eventually perform once employed in their new positions. Kent is hopeful there will be more support from agencies through the next cohort, “once they see the great outcomes.”

Those who are selected at the end of the process will demonstrate an aptitude in things that go well with cyber defense, which Kent referred to as “research, analytics, and curiosity.” Kent said it’s important that they are able to “identify types of patterns and follow those leads—it’s really the aptitudes that are prevalent in successful people in cyber.”

The assessment, which was delivered through the government’s vendor partner, SANS, closed Friday, March 1. Kent said early results indicate that there are “a high number of individuals” who are qualifying in the “success range.” She hopes they’ll be able to make the next cohort even larger than originally planned because they received more responses than they anticipated and are already seeing “great scores.”

“When we went into it, it was an experiment,” Kent said. “And it is an experiment, right now, that is going extremely well.”

Kent said an early readout on initial results would be made available soon.