US gov't commits $3.6M to address cybersecurity skill shortage



The United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) said that it awarded cooperative agreements of almost $3.6 million, aiming to build a workforce to help guard businesses against cybersecurity risks. 

NIST, an agency of the Department of Commerce, announced on April 3 that 18 education and community-focused organizations in 15 states will receive grants of roughly $200,000 to address the shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees.

The cooperative agreements will be a multi-sector effort as they will be overseen by NICE — a partnership between government, academia and private entities.

Laurie E. Locascio, the director of NIST, said the investment is filling a “critical gap” in the cybersecurity workforce. 

“Our economic and national security depend on a highly skilled workforce capable of defending against ever-increasing cyber threats.”

According to the U.S.’s CyberSeek tool, which analyzes data about the cybersecurity job market and was funded by NICE, the local market has had around 450,000 cybersecurity job openings in the last year.

However, NIST said only 82 workers were available to fill every 100 cybersecurity job openings at the time, stressing the need for the current initiative.

Related: Empirical analysis identifies blockchain as highest-performing information security startup investment

Data from Statista says that in 2023 there were at least 100 cases of private data exposure for U.S. government entities reported, up from 74 the previous year. Within those cases, the violations affected the private data of 15 million people. 

The Consumer Sentinel Network said in 2023, overall, more than 353 million people were impacted by data breaches.

Additionally, an Internet Crime report from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said that in 2023, 880,418 complaints of cybercrime were received from the public — a 10% increase from 2022.

The total cost of damage caused by cybercrime is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025.

NIST’s award grantees will together build the Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) cybersecurity education and workforce development, through which it plans to align with local businesses and nonprofits in need of a cybersecurity workforce. 

In November of last year, NIST also led efforts to establish an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Institute consortium in response to an executive order on AI safety policies released by the Biden administration 

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