Jun 27 2019

Need to Close Your Cybersecurity Talent Gap? Train a Veteran

Military skills and dedication translate well to the IT field.

Each year, the Enterprise Strategy Group’s global survey of IT professionals finds that concern over finding skilled cybersecurity talent has grown. 

In the 2015-2016 survey, 42 percent of organizations reported a problematic shortage of cybersecurity skills. By 2019, that figure had grown to 53 percent. The problem is too big to ignore — and too big for any one organization or sector to tackle alone.

This gap requires immediate attention. Governments, enterprises and higher education institutions are working on initiatives to raise the cybersecurity workforce needed to address serious threats to industry, digital commerce and critical infrastructure. But more needs to be done.


Veterans Provide A Deep Cyber Talent Resource

Security technology innovation is critical to securing the global digital landscape, coupled with the effective deployment, integration and ongoing maintenance and optimization of these solutions. Every step of that process requires well-trained professionals committed to curbing the ever-expanding landscape of cybersecurity threats

Public and private organizations are creating programs that demonstrate their commitment to solving the global cybersecurity skills shortage by confronting the real issue — the talent gap. The mission of such programs is to identify individuals who have the aptitude, interest and ability to succeed as cybersecurity professionals. 

These projects include funding training programs and resources in schools, establishing apprenticeship and mentoring programs, enabling workers who express an interest in the cybersecurity field, and working with diversity teams to fund training and scholarships for underrepresented groups such as women and minorities.

But one simple way to fill the skills gap is to help transition military veterans into the cybersecurity industry by providing professional networking, training and mentoring

Cyber skills programs that focus on vets are able to capitalize on the natural synergy between participating in a national defense unit in the armed services and defending critical information for businesses and government agencies. 

These cyber skills programs provide benefits such as professional networking, training in the latest network and security technologies, interview coaching, resume review, and revision and mentoring.

Such programs can introduce veterans to the possibility of a career in the cybersecurity industry, followed with assistance in securing internships or employment. These positions may be available within an enterprise hosting such a program or with one of their key partners. 

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Discover how the Office of Personnel Management wants agencies to prepare for the workforce of the future.

One Veteran’s Cyber Career Story

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force, Jeff Crockett is currently the cyber monitoring defense development senior associate at Capital One. Crockett served as a security police officer at Clark Air Base in the Philippines and in the Marines as an avionics electrician. 

He took part in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program as he prepared to leave the military. As he began looking for work, he found a number of outside programs that help veterans transition into the cybersecurity field

“I was very impressed with what I heard,” Crockett says. “The programs are set up really well to help veterans transition from a military culture to a civilian, commercial culture.” 

An effective program needs to cover every aspect of the transition, from skills training to the job search, including how to set up a LinkedIn profile, how to target certain jobs and how to prepare for an interview — including what kinds of questions the candidate will be asked and how they should dress for an interview.

To maximize the effectiveness of a veterans’ training program, it should be overseen by someone who has served in the military and understands the complexities and challenges veterans face when transitioning into the civilian sector. 

Success came swiftly for Crockett. He began receiving emails from potential employers soon after entering the program and was soon interviewing with companies. A letter of recommendation from the program assured prospective employers that he had a tested and proven set of skills.

In light of the attention he got so quickly, as well as the quality of assistance he received, Crockett believes his participation helped him obtain his current position at Capital One. He is on the front lines of their Cyber Monitoring Defense Development project, researching and developing the solutions that will protect and defend the Capital One network

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out where to turn when the cybersecurity hiring well runs dry. 

Search for Cyber Talent Among Transitioning Service Members

Organizations, whether public or private, face two interconnected problems: a rapidly expanding and complex threat landscape and a dearth of cybersecurity personnel. 

Rather than waiting for a solution to appear, proactive organizations are creating programs that add to the pool of cybersecurity know-how in general and can solve their own personnel needs in particular. This increases the speed of developing basic expertise in the field and starting veterans on an in-demand career path. 

It’s possible, then, for organizations across all sectors to meet their own cybersecurity needs by designing education and training programs for veterans. In the process, they’ll be giving back to the men and women looking to transition from service to our country to rewarding civilian careers — a win for everyone.

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