Creating a cyber talent pipeline for DOD contractors

Old Dominion University’s School of Cybersecurity is training cyber experts to be fluent in the Defense Department’s cybersecurity requirements so they can help defense contractors stay secure.

The standards outlined in the Defense Department’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program are designed to ensure that vendors throughout the defense supply chain are adhering to DOD’s stringent security requirements.

Realizing that goal, however, requires a workforce that is prepared to understand and address those standards and the constantly evolving security landscape. That can be a challenge in the notoriously tight U.S. cybersecurity job market.

Old Dominion University’s School of Cybersecurity has created a new cybersecurity job creation system that seeks to create a pipeline of workers who are fluent in DOD’s CMMC requirements and the latest guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology so they can help defense contractors secure their systems and products.

The certification program is being funded by a grant from Virginia and is expected to fill 1,300 cybersecurity jobs in the state in the next five years. The university will offer six courses online and plans to enroll over 500 students. The first cohort will start their classes in March 2022. Some of the credits earned through the program can go toward certain master’s degrees at the university if students choose to continue their education.

The program’s leaders said they will particularly focus on training veterans, a population that is already active in the government contracting workforce. They added that the program is just the latest development in the School of Cybersecurity’s upward trajectory from enrolling 11 students when it opened in 2015 to now serving nearly 1,000 students.

The ultimate goal of the program is to help support DOD’s mission and its contractors by providing the staff expertise necessary to secure the defense industrial base.

This article first appeared on GCN as part of the 2021 Public Sector Innovation award winner profiles.