Cyber Reskilling Academy Reports Success

Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent has boasted the success of the first graduates of the Cyber Reskilling Academy. The academy was started as a pilot to gauge interest and ability to reskill sectors of the federal workforce to prepare for increased cyber needs. Attendees gained two certifications as a result of their participation in the program.

“Our goal was: does the program work? Is there interest, and is this something that is meaningful against any of those things that we’re trying to fill in the federal government? Our overall answer was yes,” Kent told reporters last week.

The cohort received more than 1,500 applications from federal employees. The inaugural class accepted 30 students from 11 agencies.

Graduates from the academy obtained two Global Information Assurance Certification credentials (GAIC) for Security Essentials and Certified Incident Handler.

Coast Guard employee Mary Gabriel decided to apply for the academy because she noticed the word “cybersecurity” appearing more and more in the work she did in acquisition but did not truly understand why.

“I was happy to get this opportunity to learn more,” she said. “But through the class, the training was incredible… It was far more technical than I expected. I didn’t expect to learn Linux or Python coding, but it’s very cool that I did. I didn’t know if I would like it. I learned that I liked it.”

Gabriel credits the academy with giving her the skills to ask better questions, direct resources more effectively, and prioritize activities. She believes she can incorporate her new skills into daily work and is considering pivoting to a cyber-security position in the future.

Similarly, academy graduate Shannon Riley, who works in the privacy office at the Department of Education, explained how the program could benefit her in her current position.

“When the security operations center has an incident or an event that has occurred, I now have that background of understanding of what they can look at and what they may be capable of doing to investigate more. And I can use that on a weekly basis," Riley said. "I'm hoping I can use more of my skills I learned in my second certification to help expand our incident response capabilities from a privacy perspective but also to aid the cybersecurity perspective as well."

Kent has already begun a second Academy class formed of IT professionals. The second class is set to graduate on September 20.

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