UWF Center for Cybersecurity​-led CyberSkills2Work Program awarded ​$2.5 million expansion​ grant

Aug. 8, 2023
CyberSkills2Work focuses on recruiting, preparing and placing transitioning military and first responders into cybersecurity work roles in critical infrastructure sectors, including financial services, defense industrial base and energy sectors.

Pensacola, Fla. – Aug. 8, 2023 – The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity received a $2.5 million grant from the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) Program at the National Security Agency to expand the National Cybersecurity Workforce Development program, CyberSkills2Work. UWF leads a coalition of 10 NCAE-C designated institutions to address the critical national shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals in the U.S.

CyberSkills2Work focuses on recruiting, preparing and placing transitioning military and first responders into cybersecurity work roles in critical infrastructure sectors, including financial services, defense industrial base and energy sectors. The cybersecurity workforce shortage tops 663,000 nationwide according to CyberSeek, a comprehensive cybersecurity workforce analytics website. Industry, government and nonprofit partners have worked closely with the coalition to align the program with critical needs and prepare students for cybersecurity roles.

“The CyberSkills2Work program and team had significant success and impact in its first phase - training over 1,700 veterans and first responders for cybersecurity jobs and helping employers across the country fill critical jobs,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, associate vice president for the UWF Center for Cybersecurity. “We have developed a truly transformative and scalable program that focuses on employability through competencies, skills and industry certifications. We look forward to expanding the program and welcome all employers interested in joining the National Employers Network and gaining access to skilled cybersecurity professionals.”

The White House Office of the National Cyber Director recently released the ​first-ever National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, which seeks to transform cyber education. The strategy advocates for ​more robust skills-based cyber career pathways and ​more extensive collaboration between employers, educators, government and other key stakeholders to meet both urgent and long-term workforce needs.

The strategy highlights the UWF-led CyberSkills2Work Program as a model to establish public-private partnerships ​and facilitate greater participation by veterans in the cyber workforce in support of Pillar 3: Expand and Enhance America's Cyber Workforce​.

The UWF Center for Cybersecurity and coalition will expand the CyberSkills2Work program to prepare more than 1,520 newly credentialed cybersecurity professionals over two years, a 247% increase from the two-year total number of trainees in the first grant.

Additional new objectives for the expanded CyberSkills2Work program include:

  • More flexible upskilling and reskilling training pathways
  • Expanded on-ramps and off-ramps for entry-level through advanced cybersecurity jobs
  • 22 additional training pathways that prepare for 16 cybersecurity work roles and 17 core industry certifications
  • A​n expanded National Employers Network ​and website to connect learners with cybersecurity employers and job opportunities
  • An expanded focus on all critical infrastructure sectors
  • Training workshops for NCAE-C institutions to help them launch similar workforce programs

Over the past three years, the UWF-led coalition has developed 28 training pathways that prepare for 15 cybersecurity work roles and eight industry certifications. The program trained over 1,700 transitioning military, first responders and veterans for cybersecurity careers in critical infrastructure sectors over the past three years.

Current and new coalition institutions include the University of West Florida, Augusta University, Columbus State University, Dakota State University, Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso, Florida International University, Metropolitan State University, San Antonio College, University of Houston, Cyber Florida at the University of South Florida and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

For more information about the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, visit uwf.edu/cyber. For more information about the CyberSkills2Work program, visit cyberskills2work.org