- A group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced legislation with the goal of addressing the skills gap in the cybersecurity industry through training incentives, according to a joint statement on July 25.
- The New Collar Jobs Act, introduced by representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Ann Kuster (D-NH), would modify federal student loan repayment programs to incentivize professionals to take cybersecurity jobs in "economically-distressed counties." Federal grants to cybersecurity programs would also see a boost.
- For employers, the bill would offer tax credits to companies that send employees to learn cybersecurity skills in accordance with guidelines set by the National Insitute of Standards and Technology. Those companies that demonstrate usage of the tax credit would also receive a 5% increase to their evaluation score for future government contracting bids.
The bill is a natural response to trends in the employment market, and it follows efforts made by federal agencies to bolster cybersecurity training. One study projected the gap in U.S. cybersecurity talent to reach a deficit of 1 million individuals by 2020, but the federal government itself has countered, saying its own hiring practices suggest that no such gap exists.
Regardless of the dispute, there's no denying that workers in manufacturing and process-driven industries suffer from skills gaps. Wind turbine producers and other private donors have responded with financial assistance and training. Organizations ranging from Facebook to girl scout troops also target students and younger workers to prepare them for jobs in tech.
But it remains to be seen whether all of these efforts can succeed in addressing critical talent shortages in this and other areas of tech, which are often filled by skilled foreign workers. The proposed bill may struggle to attract former manufacturing professionals, who are either aging out of the job market or pursuing other opportunities.