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 Katko Opening Statement at Cyber Talent Pipeline hearing

May 21, 2019

 Katko Opening Statement at Cyber Talent Pipeline hearing

WASHINGTON – Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee ranking member, today delivered the following opening statement at a hearing about cyber talent pipeline.

As I meet with those involved in cybersecurity, the common refrain from government, academia and industry is the need for more people.

Despite having the best and the brightest students and professionals in the world, the United States still has 300,000 open positions in the cybersecurity field.

How do we fix this? To start, we must begin engaging students in primary and secondary school. We cannot wait until college to introduce cybersecurity as a career profession.  

To do that, we need more teachers that are cyber aware and curriculums that help inspire and encourage kids to engage with cybersecurity.

For those that want to go to college, we need to make sure the programs are building the experience and knowledge that employers need.  We also need to make sure we have professors to do that.

Enabling programs that grant a range of students the opportunity to engage in cybersecurity scholarship should be a top priority. I recently discussed cybersecurity scholarship opportunities offered by the National Science Foundation through their CyberCorps program. By offering prospective students the opportunity to develop the critical skills in exchange for government service, we insure that we have highly skilled cybersecurity employees in the government while creating the next generation of cybersecurity experts.

College is the not only pathway to a career in cyber. We need to not only develop and scale programs, but also increase the awareness of them.

We need to provide opportunities to reskill those currently in the workforce who are interested in moving to a career in cyber.

We must do more in the short term as well.  I had the opportunity to talk with employees at the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency yesterday and a common theme was challenges in hiring and retaining skilled employees. 

It is critical that we do more now to give CISA the tools to more quickly bring on qualified personnel, particularly to join the Hunt and Incident Response Team (HIRT) and the National Cybersecurity Assessments and Technical Security (NCATS) Lab. 

The men and women in these offices are working around the clock to identify and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities in both the .gov domain and on behalf of the private sector.  Over the past few years, Congress has given CISA significant new authorities to harden our cyber defenses but we have to cut the red tape so they can hire faster and keep their personnel. 

There is no silver bullet to solve the problem. And the federal government cannot go it alone. It will take time, effort, new ideas and collaboration.

I look forward to working with my colleagues to make a dent in the cyber workforce shortage.