Langevin Calls for Commitment to Building Stronger Cybersecurity Workforce at URI Symposium
Emphasizing an opportunity to create jobs in Rhode Island and across the country while addressing a major national security challenge, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) kicked off an all-day Cybersecurity Symposium that he commissioned at the University of Rhode Island by stressing that “our country’s most important resource in cyberspace will be the people that operate it and, ultimately, defend it.” Langevin urged an audience of more than 200 people, including leaders at the federal, state and local levels, to join his effort to boost workforce development in the field.
“Our education system needs to inspire younger students and capture their talent and creativity. Strengthening the pipeline for cyber jobs will require engaging not only our nation’s schools, but also our businesses, universities and other invested partners, in a common goal,” said Langevin, who co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “We must work to incorporate the perspectives of public and private entities to build a competitive cyber workforce that meets our national security needs.”
The event, which was open to the public, brought together top cybersecurity officials, including Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity Mark Weatherford from the US Department of Homeland Security and Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Partner Engagement. Lieutenant General Flynn, an alumnus of URI, was recently nominated to be the next Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Following Langevin’s remarks, Weatherford addressed the Department's effort to make workforce development a top priority.
Illustrating the high and immediate demand for workers who excel in the field, Langevin spoke about a study that the Department of Defense carried out at his instruction and a subsequent workshop he put together to address a key finding that the military had a substantial need for people with a high level of cyber skills. He pointed to an opportunity for Rhode Island to take a leading role in boosting the cyber workforce not only to help the military, but also to secure critical infrastructure and protect private industry from theft of valuable intellectual property and private consumer information.
“This workshop stressed not only that the cybersecurity workforce must be significantly expanded, but that it has to grow in both quantity and quality,” said Langevin. “Of course the reality of constrained funding limits policy options at both the federal and state levels.”
“In Rhode Island, we are bringing together our National Guard forces, Emergency Management Agency, universities and businesses to leverage the talent of existing cyber professionals across a variety of needs,” continued Langevin, adding that part of the initiative will “provide an opportunity for those coming into or re-entering the workforce to have a wide range of employment opportunities in the cyber career field.”
Langevin also offered an update of Congressional efforts to take the legislative action necessary for strengthening cybersecurity of the military, government and critical infrastructure. While pointing out that bills passed last week showed the government has come a long way in terms of making cybersecurity a priority, he expressed disappointment that bipartisan calls for minimum security standards in our most vulnerable and valuable industries continued to go unheeded.
The second annual symposium took place days following the announcement that URI had been recognized as a top institution for addressing cybersecurity. Langevin congratulated University President Dr. David Dooley, faculty and students on URI’s designation as a Center of Excellence in Intelligence Assurance Education from the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“This recognition establishes URI's well-earned status as one of the nation's leading educational institutions in an area that is becoming our nation's most serious national security challenge,” said Langevin. “I’m especially proud to note that the initial spark for URI’s decision to pursue the Center of Excellence designation came from last year's cyber symposium. I know many more great ideas will be sparked at today's event.”
Participating with Langevin in opening the event were President Dooley and Dr. Peter Alfonso, Vice President, URI Research and Economic Development. Weatherford then offered his keynote address followed by a panel discussion on building up the cyber workforce. Lieutenant General Flynn gave the afternoon keynote speech, which preceded a panel on Partnerships in Cybersecurity: Government, Industry and Public Institutions Working Together.