Bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would direct the Department of Labor to award grants aimed at increasing access to registered apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity.

The Cyber Ready Workforce Act was introduced on Feb. 3 by Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., with companion legislation filed in the House by Reps. Susie Lee, D-Nev., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.

The bills propose creation of an apprenticeship program that would produce industry-recognized certifications in cybersecurity, encourage stackable and portable credentials, and help to ease the current cybersecurity workforce gap.

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Grants under the program would also be used to provide support services to apprentices such as career counseling, mentorship, and assistance with transportation, housing, and childcare costs.

“The serious shortage of U.S. cybersecurity workers leaves our nation vulnerable to the increasing threat of cyberattacks,” said Sen. Rosen in a press release. “As a former computer programmer, I’m reintroducing this bipartisan legislation to help fill our cyber workforce gaps through a new grant program that will support registered apprenticeships and skills training in this critical field. Our bill would open the door to more good-paying, cutting-edge jobs in Nevada and nationwide, and help protect America’s critical infrastructure and data systems.”

Senate sponsors of the legislation pointed to the jarring shortfall of workforce talent in the cybersecurity field. Data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology indicates about 600,000 U.S. cybersecurity job openings currently.

“The United States must be the leader in cybersecurity. The bipartisan Cyber Ready Workforce Act achieves this goal by expanding registered apprenticeship programs and providing workers the skills needed to succeed in the cybersecurity field,” said Sen. Blackburn. “Strengthening our cyber workforce will bolster our ability to safeguard American interests at home and abroad.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.