In his inaugural public statements since assuming the role in December, National Cyber Director Harry Coker expressed the White House’s determination to alleviate impediments faced by federal contractors in hiring cybersecurity professionals. Coker emphasized the necessity of broadening access to cyber jobs, particularly for groups traditionally underrepresented in the field, by reducing unnecessary requirements such as four-year college degrees. The current landscape, marked by stringent educational and experience prerequisites, hinders some talents from securing positions in the government or with contractors.
Acknowledging the impact of educational requirements on apprenticeship opportunities for cybersecurity roles, Coker revealed plans for a series of hiring sprints across the government to rapidly fill cybersecurity positions, promote diversity, and eliminate barriers. The federal government’s initiative aims to expedite the hiring process, and the Office of Personnel Management is expected to propose legislation to enhance pay equity and hiring flexibilities for cyber talent. Coker also hinted at a shift towards skills-based hiring, focusing on competencies rather than credentials or experience, aligning with OPM’s efforts to establish standards and goals for skills-based hiring in government tech and cyber positions.
Coker’s announcement follows the release of a workforce-focused strategy by the Office of the National Cyber Director last year, addressing persistent shortages in the cybersecurity industry. The comprehensive approach aims to make cyber jobs more accessible, diverse, and efficient within the federal government and its contracting ecosystem.