At DHS there are no days off when protecting our way of life. And part of this is ensuring cyberspace and our critical infrastructure are secure. The brave men and women of the department who work the frontlines are challenged each day to safeguard our communities and save lives, which places great demands on information sharing, decision-making, operational capabilities, and our resilience to respond to competing events.
Today, disruptions from the pandemic, climate crisis, and recent cyber hackings bring a new sense of urgency to our mission. They also raise important questions on what is needed to ensure our workforce is equipped with the right tools, skills, and training to keep the country safe and competitive in the global marketplace.
To address the question “Are we ready?” to protect our people and critical infrastructure, S&T is partnering with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI) Center of Excellence, and industry innovators. These partnerships will enable more re-training and re-skilling opportunities and drive new investments in diversity, social sciences, and research, development, and innovation, which are needed to build the next generation workforce.
Preparing our workforce for the future is both a quality of life and national security issue. Here is why: advances in the cloud and the internet of things, coupled with the rise of record-breaking natural disasters, are disrupting how government and industry operate to enhance security and provide services. These changes bring new cyber vulnerabilities to the nation’s critical infrastructure. Our adversaries seek to do harm to our transportation, healthcare, energy, and public safety systems and networks, which are the foundation of our economy and well-being.
Established operating systems, driven by wireless sensors, smart devices, and data analytics, are not only changing our security landscape, but also changing how government sets goals, manages risk, and shares knowledge and skills to prepare for future challenges. Through our industry, academic and civic partnerships, S&T is fostering new collaborations with educators and nationwide security planners to close workforce skills gaps and support training curricula that bolsters technical and non-technical capabilities, including IT developers, computer scientists, and cyber risk analysts.
On November 16 at 1:00 p.m. EST, I hope you can join us for a live presentation: Training a Resilient Workforce in Support of Critical Infrastructure. Our colleagues from CISA and CIRI, along with experts from academia and industry, will discuss what is needed to secure the nation’s infrastructure from a workforce perspective, and how the public and private sectors can work together differently to recruit students and build a well-prepared cadre of professionals to support future DHS missions. If you are unable to join us on November 16, please visit S&T’s events page to view our discussion on demand.
It’s important to recognize we each have a role to play in expanding our awareness of cyber risks and supporting workforce initiatives that keep pace with the digitization of our society. For every piece of connected technology that is installed to increase efficiencies, whether to facilitate more reliable transit or collect data on predicting a security breach, the threat to our homeland security and infrastructure resilience is real. Defending against these complex threats is inextricably linked to improving our quality of life.
With your support, the department stands ready to train and enhance the skills of dedicated students and professionals who are representative of the country and are qualified, experienced, and ready to begin careers in homeland security fields. To realize our vision, S&T will continue to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers and provide the brave men and women who put their lives on the line each day with trusted and secure solutions to do their jobs safely and keep the county secure and resilient.
Below are additional resources to get connected and learn more:
- November 15 through December 31, 2021, DHS is establishing a new talent management system to address historical and ongoing challenges recruiting and retaining individuals with skills necessary to execute DHS's dynamic cybersecurity mission. CTMS is a mission-driven, person-focused, and market-sensitive approach to talent management.
- To strengthen U.S. scientific leadership in homeland security research and education, S&T’s OUP taps the expertise of the nation’s colleges and universities to tackle tough homeland security challenges through three unique programs: Centers of Excellence (COEs), Workforce and Professional Development Initiatives, and Minority Serving Institutions Programs.
- CIRI is a DHS Center of Excellence, managed by OUP and led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, that conducts research and education to enhance the resiliency of the nation’s critical infrastructures and the businesses and public entities that own and operate those assets and systems. CIRI supports CISA in developing a robust, well prepared pipeline of professionals equipped to tackle the rising challenges associated with securing and protecting critical infrastructure assets.