Just as the first 30 participants kick off their classes on how to become cybersecurity employees of the federal government, the White House announced a second opportunity for feds to switch their career path to an area sorely needed at agencies.

The Cyber Reskilling Academy cohort two, unlike the first cohort, is open to all federal employees whether or not they already work in an IT field.

“With over 1,500 applications to the first cohort, there clearly is an interest for cybersecurity within the federal government,” said Federal CIO Suzette Kent in a statement. “We fight the cyber battle every day and the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy is an investment in our federal workforce and our country.”

With only 30 applicants chosen for the last cohort, that’s an acceptance rate of just two percent, less than half the 2019 acceptance rates of famously hard to get into universities such as Harvard and Stanford.

Interested feds have until May 15 to submit applications, after which they will have to go through two assessments before selection June 10. The cohort is expected to accept 20 employees, and classes will take place from July 8 to September 25.

Kent, who spoke April 23 at GDIT’s Emerge event, told Fifth Domain that even as the administration pursues another round of cyber reskilling classes, they are also looking for other areas of need in the IT space where current federal employees can be used to fill tech positions.

“We’re forecasting that data is going to be next, so one of the ones were investing in is also around some data science,” said Kent.

“We’re also looking at how we build the leaders of the future, so some of the later — I won’t even call them reskilling, it’s kind of upskilling — those academies are going to be around identifying some of our leading talent and augmenting what they can do to ensure that we have, kind of, a succession plan and we’re building the next set of leaders.”

Some of what comes next in the government reskilling or upskilling initiatives may come out of legislative requirements, such as the OPEN Government Data Act’s mandate that agencies designate a chief data officer to direct open data policies.

“We know that we need to upskill in some of those areas as well,” said Kent.

The future of the reskilling and upskilling initiatives will have to contend with funding formats that can keep the needed programs running.

According to Kent, the initial cyber reskilling academy is funded out of the CIO Council, with partnership from various agencies.

But that process, while innovative, isn’t sustainable long term, and the reskilling academy leaders will have to come up with a more stable funding model in order to address the future workforce and mission gaps at federal agencies.

“I am hoping that this does become, kind of, a standard set of processes. It may not be the same topics,” said Kent.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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