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Fostering a Diverse and Inclusive Cyber Workforce

As the U.S. faces an estimated 700,000 vacancies in cyber-enabled jobs, Cisco announced at the White House Cyber Workforce and Education Summit today our commitment to training an additional 200,000 students in the U.S. over the next three years.

For nearly 25 years, Cisco Networking Academy has trained more than two million U.S. students with leading networking and cybersecurity skills, directly addressing the digital skills shortage by providing a skills-to-jobs program. And yet, there is much more to be done if we plan to bridge the cyber workforce deficit and unlock employment opportunities for all. 

As the U.S. faces an estimated 700,000 vacancies in cyber-enabled jobs, we know there are untapped pools of talent across the country with diverse experiences and non-traditional backgrounds. That’s why today, at the White House Cyber Workforce and Education Summit in Washington, Cisco announced our commitment to train an additional 200,000 students in the U.S. over the next three years.  

As the longest running corporate education program in the world, Cisco Networking Academy proudly partners with 49 percent of the nation’s community and technical colleges and 48 of the nation’s 107 HBCUs. Our experience tells us that solving the cyber skills gap will not only strengthen national and economic security but will also open opportunities to employ a more diverse workforce and unlock well-paying employment opportunities for historically marginalized communities. The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and through increased public-private collaboration, we too can rapidly evolve to meet the challenge at hand. 

It is so critical for Cisco to continue to engage in these timely and important discussions. Today’s summit brought together key stakeholders from across the U.S. cyber ecosystem from government, the private sector, academic institutions, and nonprofits to engage in collaborative discussion and strategize a path forward for addressing the core challenges facing the cyber workforce, resulting in several follow-up working groups. In the corporate world, we recognize that there’s no one company that can address this. Similarly, a cross-section of diverse government agencies will be critical as well, which is why I am grateful for the leadership of National Cyber Director Chris Inglis, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Jen Easterly, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and other officials in convening such an important event focused on addressing our nation’s cyber workforce gap as part of the Biden Administration’s ongoing effort to develop a national cybersecurity strategy.

Workforce development and cybersecurity skills training are of deep importance to Cisco, as we seek to attract top talent and keep our employees and customers safe. My team grapples with the same questions raised today at the White House summit: How do we empower the workforce with the tools they need to succeed in a tech-centric, hyper-evolving economic environment? How do we attract diverse talent and create a culture where all employees can thrive? And how can industry further partner with government to foster innovation and keep our country safe? 

While the cyber workforce deficit constitutes a near‐ and long‐term threat to our national and economic security, it also represents an opportunity to employ a more diverse and inclusive workforce in jobs with low barriers to entry and substantial income potential. To close this gap and leverage the related employment opportunities, we need to ensure that cybersecurity training and education is available to broader segments of society who use information and communications technology in our rapidly changing world.  

Today’s conference was an important first step in convening government, the private sector, nonprofits, and academia to aggressively bridge the cyber skills gap and unlock high-paying job opportunities that will improve the economy and secure our critical infrastructure. Cisco is dedicated to doing our part in moving the needle to foster a diverse, inclusive cyber workforce.

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