University of West Florida heads US cybersecurity workforce programme

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By U2B Staff 

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The University of West Florida (UWF) was selected to lead a coalition of ten institutions to develop a National Cybersecurity Workforce Development Programme to address the critical national shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals in the US.

In this initiative, UWF received a two-year, 6-million-dollar grant by The National Security Agency (NSA) selected to oversee the programme.

In this programme, the team will establish a nationally scalable certificate-based cybersecurity workforce development programme in line with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), Cybersecurity Workforce Framework.

The programme will provide flexible pathways that accommodate participants’ diverse aptitudes, education, and experience and the workforce programme pathways will be offered across the US through various delivery formats including face-to-face, online, and hybrid.

Participants will also develop core competencies and skills through stackable and verifiable credentials and certificates.

Additionally, participants will develop essential skills to prepare them for critical infrastructure sector work roles.

The programme will also include cutting-edge topics, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and threat intelligence.


The grant is a timely intervention designed to build a robust workforce in the field of cybersecurity. According to CyberSeek, a comprehensive cybersecurity workforce analytics website, the cybersecurity workforce shortage hits 500,000 in the US.

This new programme will facilitate the collaboration between UWF and the academic coalition and industry, government, and non-profits partners to align the workforce programme with critical needs and prepare students for cybersecurity roles.

Through this partnership, UWF will lead a team of cybersecurity institutions, including Augusta University, Dakota State University, Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso, Florida International University, University of Houston, Metropolitan State University, San Antonio College, Cyber Florida at the University of South Florida and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

According to UWF, the programme will focus on recruiting, preparing, and placing transitioning military and first responders into cybersecurity roles.

The shortage of skills in cybersecurity caused by a lack of cybersecurity training impacts 70% of organisations and this decline is now in its fourth consecutive year.

These roles will fill the need for cybersecurity personnel in critical infrastructure sectors, including financial services, defense industrial base, and energy sectors.

Martha D. Saunders, University of West Florida President said that cybersecurity is an exploding field vital to the country’s protection.

“As a national leader in cybersecurity, UWF is proudly at the forefront of workforce development. We will continue developing talented cybersecurity professionals to protect us against cybercrime,” she said.

Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, “We will establish a scalable national cybersecurity workforce programme that focuses on employability and can be scaled to include additional work roles, sectors, employers and institutions in future years. Our strong and passionate coalition team aims to solve the cybersecurity workforce crisis once and for all.”

Diane M. Janosek, Commandant of the NSA’s National Cryptologic School said that the programme transitions veterans and first-responders into cybersecurity professionals that can fill gaps in the country’s critical infrastructure sectors.