Weekly Word on the Street: Government Can't Find Security Pros

by Jim Staats | Nov 16, 2012

Takeaways of the week for talented cybersecurity pros is that your country needs you, it just doesn’t quite know how to find you; for would-be healthcare IT pros, your services are definitely in demand; for closed-minded executives, open your eyes to the new job market of today.

Cybersecurity Pros Wanted - 600 of ‘Em
The federal government is ready beef up its cybersecurity ranks to the tune of 600 new roles, if only officials knew how to find folks.

That’s the good and not-so-good news to come out of a recent cybersecurity forum, as reported in a recent article in CSO online.

At the forum, put on by the Washington Post, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano said the agency was ready to act on the recommendation of an internal Task Force on Cyberskills and hire at least 600 cyber pros, analysts and other IT specialists.

Other speakers at the forum, however, countered that similar goals have been in place for years with little traction as the agency isn’t tapping the talent pool properly.

Officials realize there’s an abundance of talented cybersecurity professionals, but the DHS is reportedly unable to define the skills and job descriptions for what it needs and is missing out on available talent.

Jason Miller of Federal News Radio stated that the Government Accountability Office “found in November 2011 that nearly every agency experienced difficulty in defining and hiring cyber workers.”

Other issues contributing to these vacancies going wanting, according to experts, are the perceived lack of “cool factor” in taking on a government job and the mismatch of individuals suited for cyber roles with typical bureaucratic hiring practices.

“It is much more interesting and cool to build new stuff in Silicon Valley than it is to toil doing cybersecurity” for DHS, said Paul Rosenzweig of Red Branch Law & Consulting.

In recommending the chunk of cyber roles added to DHS, the task force also encouraged a hiring process that was smooth and supportive with jobs that were “enticing in every dimension.”

From the sounds of it, there’s more work to be done to find individuals for the work to be done.

Think you could fit the bill? Test your cybersecurity know-how through the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification.

Top Trends in IT Healthcare
Juggling a constant need to handle growth, privacy concerns and demands of trends such as cloud computing, it’s no wonder healthcare IT is pegged to be the most active industry sector for hiring in the coming year.
Or, as noted in a CIO.com article on trends to watch for IT healthcare job seekers, for the next few years.
Healthcare IT “will continue to be a hot job market for the next two-three years,” said Bill Spooner, CIO at Sharp Healthcare.

Some trends in this area to keep an eye on include:

  1. Mobile healthcare: Devices allow healthcare workers to get work done on the go, yet HIPAA privacy regulations and security remain challenges.
  2. Cloud computing and virtualization: For the executives tasked with growing infrastructure while reducing costs and resources, IT workers skilled in cloud and virtualization will be of particular interest.
  3. Big Data/clinical analytics: Spooner said that “clinical analytics are a top priority for all providers, and big data is beginning to move from research to mainstream.”
  4. ICD-10 compliance: International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, or ICD, is a diagnostic coding system that the World Health Organization requires healthcare providers across the globe to use. The U.S. is the only country yet to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.
  5. Telemedicine: Current offerings range from telephone consultations to video in conjunction with medical devices, with constant adaptation due to technology advances. 

Mind the Gap
Industry executives can’t find workers for an abundance of available jobs. College graduates can’t put their skills and knowledge to use in properly challenging employment.

Apparently, it’s one complicated job market marked by varying points of view, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

The piece, by a professional management consultant, was based on interviews with a dozen CEOs in a variety of industries and more than 135 recent college graduates.

The feedback seems to only strengthen the theory that a severe skills gap exists between those hiring in the workplace and those seeking to enter the workplace.

Executives stated that college graduates are exiting from institutions with weakened requirements that didn’t properly prepare them for the complexities of today’s working environment.

The former students, on the other hand, said the addition of part-time jobs and tip-top grades, regardless of the university, still weren’t enough to get their foot in the door to prove their worth.

Today’s economy isn’t helping matters as more employers are expecting incoming employees to be ready to hit the ground running.

As noted in the article, companies known for being technically innovative seem to be ahead of the curve in their hiring practices with a workforce not solely made up of technical-degree-toting individuals.

It may take some executives learning the hard way that valuable products and services can be created from a mesh of analytical and intuitive professionals.

Meanwhile, a generation of would-be workers still await their chance.

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