The budget crunch, Obama administration officials contend, is already threatening the federal government’s ability to recruit the people it needs to respond to cyberattacks. But it might end up being even harder on the next generation of would-be cyber-warriors.
“If the government thinks it’s having trouble now recruiting skilled cybersecurity workers, wait until five to 10 years down the line when our current group of elementary school students are graduating from college and they don’t have the education to get them in the right careers,” said Evan Lesser, managing director of ClearanceJobs.com.
Of all the ideas for how Congress can beef up its cybersecurity workforce, Lesser said avoiding education cutbacks is most important.
President Barack Obama has called on Congress to commit new resources to create a master teacher corps that specializes in science, technology, engineering and math to produce 10,000 additional such teachers. So far, the initiative hasn’t caught on.
Lesser said it’s vital to start improving education in STEM classes at the elementary-school level now in order to give students the background they need to jump into cybersecurity later.
“We can’t compete on a global scale if we’re not churning out enough of those students,” he said. “This is a huge national security issue that will only get larger and more pronounced.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.