Agencies to turn toward ‘skill-based hiring’ for cyber and tech jobs, ONCD says

Agencies to turn toward ‘skill-based hiring’ for cyber and tech jobs, ONCD says Federal agencies by next summer will embrace skill-based hiring — rather than hiring based on degrees or years of experience — for IT jobs that today total nearly 100,000 federal employees, the nation’s cyber chief said Monday. Speaking at a White House event next to a placard that read “Good-Paying Jobs in Cyber,” National Cyber Director Harry Coker also said agencies would take a similar approach with federal contractors. Those two announcements were among several that government agencies and companies pledged to take Monday as part of a larger shift toward skill-based hiring in tech and cyber, often described as a hiring practice where how someone gets proficient matters less than whether they have those proficiencies at all. Candidates may have learned those skills via apprenticeships or other cyber training, so they previously may not have met a job description’s mandate for a certain level of education. It’s a response to the persistent cyber job gap that by some estimates has left around 500,000 jobs unfilled in the United States currently. It’s also a response to women and people of color being less likely to fill those jobs, and be paid less for them. “Policymakers in Washington and employers across the country have to ensure that anyone who wants to pursue a career in cybersecurity can do so in our increasingly digital world, where cyber threats are growing more frequent and more sophisticated,” Coker said. “We need cyber talent in every sector of our economy. And we need them in every community across our nation.” The emphasis on federal agency cyber practices, including affiliated contractors, reflect a strategy the Biden administration has used repeatedly in cyberspace: leveraging the economic might of the federal government, the largest employer in the United States, to influence private sector behavior. The focus on good-paying jobs comes during an election year where the economy is always one of the top issues on the minds of voters. For IT jobs labeled “the 2210 series” by the Office of Personnel Management, agencies will establish a skill-based hiring practices and principles framework that takes effect next summer, the Office of the National Cyber Director said. Neera Tanden, White House domestic policy adviser, said the cyber field could be a leading example for other industries to pivot toward skill-based hiring. As part of Monday’s event, companies like Motorola, Union Pacific Railroad and Entergy committed to activities ranging from apprenticeship programs to developing educational curriculums. Federal agencies including the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation committed to activities such as preparing veterans for cyber positions and expanding cyber learning.

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