cyberattack with city background (Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock.com)

Bipartisan bill would create new federal cybersecurity training program

Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bill on Thursday that would create two new cybersecurity training programs aimed at increasing the federal government's cyber workforce.

The bill, called the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Expansion Act, would establish a registered apprenticeship program in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency and a pilot program in the Department of Veterans Affairs to train veterans in cybersecurity.

"Our national cybersecurity infrastructure is woefully lacking, as evidenced by the SolarWinds breach," Hassan said in a statement about the bill. "In order to bolster our cyber defenses and protect our critical infrastructure, we need to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals in the federal government."

The federal government has long struggled to recruit and retain cyber talent in a tight labor market, with certain agencies pursing piecemeal programs.

The Department of Homeland Security and CISA, for example, are hoping to finish some of the last regulatory steps needed to go live with a new Cybersecurity Talent Management System this fall. DHS also began a 60-day hiring campaign to expand its cybersecurity workforce in May.

The latest bill would require a new apprenticeship program be established within two years to bolster CISA's cyber workforce.

The pilot program at the VA would target veterans for cyber trainings. The bill specifies that it should use virtual platforms for training as well as federal work-based programs and hands-on learning and assessments.

"By harnessing the experience of our veterans and creating more opportunities for hands-on learning, this legislation would help ensure we are ready to fend off cyberattacks from our adversaries," Cornyn said in a statement.

Hassan and Cornyn also reintroduced a bill in January that would allow states to enlist the help of the National Guard in cybersecurity crises.

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