Bipartisan Cybersecurity Forum in D.C. Aims to Bring Tech Jobs to Atlantic City and Beyond

Legislators will discuss bolstering cybersecurity defenses through bipartisan collaboration and education that could lead to more technology jobs in Atlantic City and beyond.

Bipartisan Cybersecurity Forum in D.C. Aims to Bring Tech Jobs to Atlantic City and Beyond
Photo by Adi Goldstein / Unsplash

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers will meet on Friday, March 22, 2024 to discuss the future of cybersecurity as it relates to workforce readiness in the “Bipartisan Congressional National Emergency RX5 Cybersecurity Initiative Forum.”

Legislators will converge on the Rayburn House Office Building from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. as they discuss bolstering cybersecurity defenses through bipartisan collaboration and education, according to a prepared statement from the U.S. Humanitarian Aid Response Team Cares (U.S. HART CARES) nonprofit organization.

“The forum is designed to address the acute and pressing need for a robust cybersecurity workforce, aiming to bridge the gap of 5 million required professionals capable of protecting America’s essential services and infrastructure from cyber threats,” said U.S. HART CARES Chairman James Whitehead.

Whitehead has been working to establish Atlantic City as a cybersecurity hub for more than 10 years.

In what those close to the project call an unprecedented collaboration, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Congressman Steve Horsford, Congressman James Clyburn, NAFEO, and RX5 CyberUnity, will introduce the WOZ ED CyberUnity (WECU) education program.

“This comprehensive program represents a nationwide effort to foster a diverse and inclusive cybersecurity workforce from kindergarten through career,” Whitehead said. “Atlantic City is going to be the hub of all of this.”

U.S. Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who initiated the Cyber Crime Reduction Program (CCRP) for low-voltage workforce training in Atlantic City, NJ, spearheaded the initiative that set the stage for national action, Whitehead said. Van Drew could not immediately be reached for comment.

Apple Computer Founder Steve Wozniak said cybersecurity education is already of vital importance and will become increasingly important.

“The significance of educating today’s youth on cybersecurity best practices cannot be overstated, as it plays a vital role as it ensures a secured digital landscape,” Wozniak said. “The integration of cybersecurity in the workforce is a critical aspect that transcends industry boundaries.”

Legislators and business owners assembled in Atlantic City on Aug. 24, 2023 for the New Jersey-Maryland Small Business Networking Breakfast where U.S. HART CARES and Evans Barnes & Associates, an Annapolis-based government relations and lobbying firm, sponsored the event to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion, RX5 Cyber Security-Artificial Intelligence youth education, workforce training, and real estate development.

Whitehead said Friday’s (WECU) announcement is the continuation and elevation of ongoing work aimed at improving the nation’s cybersecurity readiness. And, said Whitehead, it has the potential to provide high paying jobs in a field with boundless growth potential.

James Klubek, vice president of Business Development at WOZ ED, said the time is now for cybersecurity education.

“It’s amazing. We went from Atlantic City to the White House in about seven months,” said Klubek. “Cybersecurity is a national emergency and there’s always that fear that you’re going to be next.”

Klubek said the WOZ ED program could help fill the immediate demand for adults needed now in the cybersecurity field.

“We have a program for people who might want to change jobs or perhaps they’ve always wanted to be in cybersecurity,” Klubek said. “The federal government has been trying to fill that pipeline but also train adults to fill the immediate need. We have a program where we can do both.”

Horace Jones, president of CyberPoint International, cybersecurity firm of Columbia MD, said the forum would serve as a vehicle to help legislators understand the value of the cybersecurity training opportunity.

“We have an increase in cyberattacks worldwide as well as domestically,” said Jones. “What has become apparent is that we don’t have enough people in the Cyber workforce that are trained.”

In addition to helping secure the country’s digital borders, cyber education creates high-paying jobs that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree program. Though, those who want four-year cybersecurity degrees are also welcome, Klubek said.

“I’m not disregarding people who want to go for a 4-year cybersecurity degree,” Klubek said.” We’re trying to hit every single opportunity and every demographic that we can to give people an opportunity to be a part of this.”

Jones said the focus of the training being touted at the forum is threefold:

—       It’s to equip every American with foundational cyber skills.

—         We want to improve cyber education from K-12 and into higher education, which could be community colleges or technical schools, and make sure it reaches historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and tribal populations as well.

“The really basic thing is this,” Jones said, “these little Black and Brown kids, if you hand them a phone. They can use it. But we want to teach them to be more than consumers.”

—         It’s to expand and enhance the national cyber workforce by making it available to everybody and making it such that we get a workforce that we increase by teaching them skills.

Congressman Clyburn emphasized the importance of leveraging diversity within rural and urban communities to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce and by extension, national defense, Whitehead said. Congressman Glenn Ivey from Maryland’s 4th District and Congressman Nick Langworthy from New York’s 23rd District have also expressed support for the initiative highlighting the program’s potential to provide vital cybersecurity training to students, veterans, and adults, enhancing the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

“This March 22 forum underscores the bipartisan commitment to national cybersecurity readiness,” Whitehead said. “We’re driving all of this to create new non-casino jobs in Atlantic City.”

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