The Cybersecurity Skills Integration Act introduced in the House last week to jumpstart development of career and technical education training initiatives that incorporate cybersecurity into the curriculum–appears to have one major unresolved issue: competing for qualified instructors in the white-hot market for cybersecurity professionals.
Introduced by Congressmen Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Glenn Thompson, R-Penn., the Cybersecurity Skills Integration Act includes $10 million in grant authorization that will help provide program incentives at the post-secondary level, but does not directly detail where the teachers for these programs might come from.
“Kind of the sad fact is, you know a lot of it–these are in-demand positions, so sometimes what we pay our instructors is nowhere close to what they could make working in the private sector practicing their trade, their skills, their profession,” Rep. Thompson said at a Brookings Institution event on Wednesday. The bill, he said, addresses the problem in an indirect way.
It’s possible, according to the congressmen, that businesses would lend employees as adjunct faculty for programs like these because it is an investment the businesses would benefit from.
“It’s the business and the industries that absolutely need this workforce in order for them to be successful,” Rep. Thompson said.
Rep. Langevin suggested that higher education is still playing catch-up in the cybersecurity area because it is such a young field. He believes that as education starts to catch up, that will mean more teachers will follow.
“As people go through these programs, and get the academic credentialing and training, then hopefully there’ll be more people in the workforce that will also be willing to now teach these skills,” Rep. Langevin said.
The congressmen spoke at length about the risks associated with a relaxed culture around cybersecurity and how that would affect safety systems in the workplace, cyber intrusion of critical infrastructure, and sectors like food processing. Their hope is that this legislation will be a start in better aligning classroom teachings and real-world needs.
A previous version of the Cybersecurity Skills Integration bill was introduced in the 115th Congress in Dec. 2018. There was no Senate companion bill for the measure and did not make it out of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee.