Mastercard in collaboration with Microsoft, Workday and the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service today launched the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative – a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to recruit the nation’s best minds to defend against global cyberattacks. The launch of this initiative serves as a call to action for leading companies, federal agencies and higher education institutions to come together and help grow the talent pipeline of cybersecurity technologists to protect the nation and support our digital economy.
With more than 313,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S. between September 2017 and August 2018, the talent deficit is significant and the need for a skilled workforce is steadily expanding. The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is a new program to help reduce the critical talent gap and support the next generation of motivated, mission-driven cybersecurity leaders.
A selective cross-sector opportunity for highly qualified, recent graduates in cybersecurity-related fields, the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative helps to jumpstart careers and provide the training and experience needed to lead the nation’s cyber defense across the public and private sectors. Participants selected for the program will be guaranteed a two-year placement at a federal agency with cybersecurity opportunities. Before the conclusion of their federal service, participants will then be eligible for full-time positions with the program’s private sector partners, and once hired, will receive up to $75,000 in student loan assistance.
The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative includes an unparalleled group of private sector companies and government agencies that play a vital role in protecting the nation and digital economy.
Founding partners in the program’s inaugural year include:
Participating federal agencies include:
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Department of Defense
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Federal Election Commission
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Naval Intelligence
- Small Business Administration
“Cybersecurity is a critical issue facing our world today. It will take a true collaboration between the public and private sectors to get the right resources in place to address the threat,” said Ron Green, chief security officer, Mastercard. “We invite more corporations and government agencies to join us in this critical endeavor and give the best and brightest talent an opportunity to get a step up, enhance their skills and pave their own career paths.”
Throughout the program, participants will engage with subject matter experts from the public and private sectors, build an interagency network of cybersecurity colleagues across government and attend leadership development sessions. By working for government organizations and innovative private sector companies, participants will gain an understanding of the complexity of cybersecurity challenges and develop the necessary skills needed to overcome threats to the nation’s digital infrastructure.
“The Army is pleased to join the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative and partner with top companies and universities across the country to develop cybersecurity talent and provide them with opportunities that help support our nation’s defense,” said Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, director of headquarters Department of the Army’s Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Information Operations. “This program reflects not only our emphasis on, but also the immense value we see in public-private partnerships to collaboratively address the country’s cyberspace talent deficit.”
The federal government’s ability to deliver important services to the American people, protect privacy and safeguard classified information requires an effective and secure digital infrastructure overseen by highly skilled cybersecurity professionals. As of June 2018, only four percent of federal cybersecurity employees are under the age of 30, compared to nearly 14 percent of federal cybersecurity employees over the age of 60, according to federal workforce data.
“It is critical for our government to attract and hire highly skilled workers capable of securing federal computer networks and building defenses against the thousands of cyberattacks that occur every year,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, the organization operating the new initiative. “The federal government has fallen more and more behind in the race for cyber talent, and this program will help get it back on track.”
“The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is an important way for the George Washington University and other top universities to help build a first-class cybersecurity workforce,” said Thomas LeBlanc, president of The George Washington University. “This program offers a unique opportunity for our students to gain invaluable leadership skills and hands-on experience in the public and private sectors, while alleviating the burden of student loan debt.”
Candidates can apply now on the website through October 18. Agencies will make offers by spring 2020 and participants will start in the summer or fall of 2020.