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Cyber, AI drive workforce reskilling

As agencies continue to adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning, they're working to keep their employees up to speed in new technologies and cybersecurity defenses.  

Lynne Parker, assistant director for AI at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), acknowledged at an April 18 event hosted by the National Academy for Public Administration that AI presents "a lot of workforce challenges."

Parker said that while government doesn't "at the moment" have a holistic approach toward training and preparing the workforce for technological advancements, "agencies are stepping up on their own to create opportunities for people to enroll" in IT, cyber and AI training.

"Agencies are taking an active role in trying to help people learn those kinds of opportunities," she said. Because agencies understand "the kinds of skills and the kinds of work that they do, they're best suited to create these kinds of training programs," she added, citing the General Services Administration as an example of an agency that's promoting new skills.

As the administration promotes greater investment in AI, machine learning and other emerging technologies, it expects agencies to change the skillsets of their workforces.

On April 15, the first class of the Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy got down to work. The White House began its three-month reskilling pilot to retrain current non-IT federal employees for basic cyber defense work. The program is currently limited to selected applicants.

First announced in November, the academy received about 1,500 applications for its originally planned 25 slots, prompting the Office of Management and Budget to expand the skills training to more federal employees.

A second cohort is aimed at developing cybersecurity skills for existing government employees.

"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. "We fight the cyber battle every day and the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy is an investment in our federal workforce and our country."

Kent has also said that data- and technology-focused pilots are an administration management priority for 2019. The second cohort will begin its eight weeks of training July 8. And unlike the first round, which was only open to federal employees who did not work in IT, the second is open to all executive branch employees.

Applications for the second cohort for the academy will be accepted through May 15. Those applying will be required to complete two online assessments by May 22, and those selected will be notified by June 10.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.

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