Cybersecurity Organizations Work with the White House to Plug Employment Gap

Cybersecurity companies are offering free training and certification to get more workers in the pipeline.

There's a big employment gap in the IT workplace, and it's only going to get bigger in the months and years ahead. That explains why the White House convened a summit in mid-July, and why it has pledged to work with a variety of cybersecurity organizations and companies to help fill that gap.

I'm talking, of course, about cybersecurity jobs — there are more than 700,000 open jobs in the United States right now, and more than 2 million globally. A cybersecurity disaster can wreak havoc with the bottom line and reputation of almost any company or organization. The massive number of unfilled jobs should make everyone nervous, if not downright scared.

Raising the Bar on Cybersecurity

One of the stated goals of the White House National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit (held July 18th) was to "raise the bar on cybersecurity through greater awareness, education, and training." This means that the Biden administration is asking lots of cybersecurity players to pony up with no-cost or low-cost cybersecurity training options and offerings to help prepare people to work in the cybersecurity field. 

(ISC)², the parent organization for the CISSP and numerous other high-value, high-recognition cybersecurity certifications, responded with a drive called the (ISC)² One Million Certified in Cybersecurity Program. The organization pledged to get at least 1 million people through its brand new entry-level Certified in Cybersecurity credentialing process ASAP for free.

Don’t get too excited right away, though: The free offering won’t start until September, at which time (ISC)² will open free enrollment in training and testing for this credential. Other players participating in this initiative include:

Cybersecurity companies are offering free training and certification to get more workers in the pipeline.

Cisco Networking Academy, which will offer free training to 200,000 U.S. students over the coming three years. As far as I can tell, the precise details of which courses and certifications will fall under this offer are not yet available (see Cisco's announcement). That said, the company offers a complete set cybersecurity certifications at levels from basic through associate to CCIE and beyond.

Depending on what (and how) the company makes its training and certifications available to qualified applicants, this could be a big deal for those lucky enough to find themselves an open slot.

Security company Fortinet plans to expand its information security awareness and training service for free to schools across the United States. Like (ISC)², Fortinet has its own initiative to train 1 million candidates in cybersecurity by 2026, to help close the looming skills gap. The company already offers a sizable free training portfolio, including dozens of courses from entry through advanced levels.

Who Else Should Join In

Cybersecurity companies are offering free training and certification to get more workers in the pipeline.

While Cisco, (ISC)², and Fortinet make a pretty potent combination, there are lots of big security players missing from this collection. Looking at the Cyber 100 list compiled by University of San Diego, it's easy to see who should also be part and parcel of this initiative.

Just based on that list, I'd include KnowBe4, FireEye, Rapid7, Check Point, CrowdStrike, Avast, Coalfire, Cybereason, Deep Instinct, and Deloitte. And that's just me cherry-picking the notable companies from the first 20 slots in that Top 100 list. Let’s throw in the rest of the top cybersecurity cert providers, too, namely: EC-Council, ISACA, CompTIA, SANS, and others of that ilk.

Given the size of the gap, and the indisputable importance of seeing it get filled, it makes sense for U.S.-based cybersecurity companies with cert and training programs to remove the price tags, and get people through those programs. Anything less would fail the "enlightened self-interest" test where doing good means forgoing some revenue in the interest of “raising the bar” for prospective IT workers and the whole IT marketplace. 'Nuff said!

Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.