Two years ago, IBM coined a term for professions between blue- and white-collar jobs.
The so-called “new collar” positions prioritize skills, knowledge, and a willingness to learn over traditional degrees. These are primarily careers in tech, and many of the roles are in cybersecurity. The computing giant is investing $1 billion to help local governments and school officials launch new educational initiatives that combine skills learned in high school with community college courses and on-the-job training and mentoring. IBM also shifted its approach to recruitment. By late 2017, 20 percent of IBM’s new hires for cybersecurity jobs were considered new collar professionals.
The IBM effort is a prime example of how the private and public sectors—in the U.S. and abroad—should work more closely to bridge the cybersecurity talent gap. Washington can’t defend the nation’s cybersecurity on its own. In the U.S., “cyber power is not at Ft. Meade,” Jason Healey, senior research scholar at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, said in a March 2017 Congressional hearing, referring to the National Security Agency headquarters. Since it’s really the tech sector that holds the keys to better cybersecurity, this field requires much more robust public-private collaboration.
Around the globe, this collaboration is starting to happen, from initiatives to increase the public’s role in improving cybersecurity to retraining soldiers for jobs in the field. Here’s a look at some of the most promising examples of how businesses, governments, and educators can work together.
The all-volunteer Estonian Defence League boasted 25,001 members in 2015 in a country of 1.3 million. Established in 2008 as part of the league, the Cyber Defence Unit includes professionals from a wide array of fields. The unit enables private-sector workers interested in the field—some without a background in tech—to train with cybersecurity experts in order to gain skills and experience, and to network with others involved in the space. Additionally, Estonia has been teaching youths ages 7 to 19 how to write code since 2012 through the ProgeTiiger pilot program, which has now expanded to 67 percent of Estonian schools.
Spain’s cyber camps
Since 2014, Spain has offered free annual virtual cyber camps, hosted in a different city every year and organized by the Instituto Nacional de Ciberseguridad, the public entity that covers cybersecurity initiatives. It is a well-known event that attracts talent from across the country and connects existing experts with companies that host the effort. Participation has grown from 10,000 in 2015 to 15,000 attendees and 7,000 streaming connections in 2016, according to the most recent data available.