How a new public-private partnership will fill cybersecurity gaps for the FBI and CIA

Companies including Mastercard and Microsoft are partnering with federal agencies and nonprofits to produce more cyber talent.

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Mastercard is teaming up with Microsoft, Workday, and Partnership for Public service to launch a public-private partnership to recruit and retain cybersecurity talent, according to a Tuesday press release. This Cybersecurity Talent Initiative calls upon top companies, federal agencies, and higher education institutions to join together to foster the next generation of cybersecurity technologists.

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While many think automation is the answer to solving the cybersecurity economy's tech talent gap, the partnership wants to look to human workforce solutions. This initiative will help jumpstart cybersecurity careers by providing the training and experience necessary to upskill the nation's cyber defense teams across both public and private sectors, the release said.

"It is critical for our government to attract and hire highly skilled workers capable of securing federal computer networks and building defenses against the thousands of cyberattacks that occur every year," Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, said in the release. "The federal government has fallen more and more behind in the race for cyber talent, and this program will help get it back on track."

Selected participants will be granted a two-year placement in a federal agency with a cybersecurity focus. Participating agencies include the CIA, the FBI, the DoD, and the EPA. Before finishing their federal service stint, participants will then be eligible for full-time positions with the program's private sector partners and, once hired, will receive up to $75,000 in student loan assistance, the release added.

Participants will make connections with other cybersecurity professionals in the industry, as well as attend leadership development sessions. This is especially important for getting millennial and Gen Z workers interested in the field: As of June 2018, only 4% of federal cybersecurity employees were under the age of 30, the release noted.

Click here to apply for the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative. Agencies will make offers by Spring 2020, and chosen participants will start in the summer or fall of that year.

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By Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.