May 09 2023

NASCIO and the NGA Call for Strengthening the Cybersecurity Workforce

State and local governments face challenges in hiring and retaining skilled IT staff.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers and the National Governors Association recently released a report titled Securing States: Modernizing to Attract and Retain Cyber Talent. NASCIO and NGA forged a partnership in 2022, and the report is the fulfillment of its goal: to produce a set of actions that state governments can use to close the gap in hiring and retaining cybersecurity talent.

Gathering insights from a pool of advisers, officials and other professionals, the report prescribes best practices drawn from their knowledge and backgrounds. The report describes a “discouraging outlook” on the condition of the cybersecurity workforce for state governments.

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The public sector workforce is severely understaffed. From December 2021 to February 2022, the job opening rate in state and local government was the highest in more than two decades, according to the MissionSquare Research Institute.

NASCIO and NGA began their efforts to address this issue in June 2022 with a workshop at the NGA National Summit on State Cybersecurity. The session shed light on why there are cyber workforce shortages, with IT leaders identifying roadblocks including:

  • Agencies’ inability or unwillingness to offer remote work options
  • A lack of qualified instructors to train or upskill employees
  • A lack of internship opportunities for students and entry-level workers
  • Lengthy hiring processes that leave agencies at a disadvantage

During a roundtable in December, the two organizations spoke with experts about solutions. The report details the top recommendations from those discussions:

  • States must communicate that state governments are an attractive place to work.
  • States need to modernize to offer flexible work, including remote and hybrid work opportunities.
  • States must focus on diversity, equity and inclusion when hiring, recruiting and retaining talent.
  • States need to collaborate with tech and cybersecurity stakeholders, including those in the private sector, academia, nonprofit organizations and the federal government, to provide talent development opportunities.
  • States should update position descriptions to reflect industry-standard job titles and reduce barriers to entry by eliminating unnecessary requirements.

MORE FROM STATETECH: How agencies can mitigate threats created by AI enhancements.

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