Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland, which recently received a federal grant to lead a consortium of 14 Maryland community colleges, in partnership with 37 employers, to build career pathways for cybersecurity and information technology jobs. The $15 million dollar Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant is one of 70 awards â€“ totaling $450 million â€“ that the Department of Labor announced in September. To learn first-hand how the grant is helping equip students for cybersecurity jobs that are locally available, Secretary Pritzker toured the schoolâ€™s cyber laboratory with Montgomery Collegeâ€™s President Dr. DeRionne Pollard before participating in a roundtable discussion with representatives from Marylandâ€™s community colleges, state and local officials, and employers serving as partners through this consortium.
During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized that skills development is an important issue for Americaâ€™s workforce and businesses. Since taking office, Secretary Pritzker has spoken to more than 1,400 business leaders and one-third of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and almost every one of them has raised this as an issue that is critical to their future. This is why Secretary Pritzker has made job-driven training a top priority for the Department of Commerce for the very first time. Across many different industries, from manufacturing to cybersecurity, jobs are going unfilled because employers canâ€™t find workers with the skills they are seeking. In fact, there are currently about 210,000 open and unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the country.
Cybersecurity is a threat not just to national security, but to Americaâ€™s businesses and economy atâ€“large. During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the Commerce Departmentâ€™s key role in addressing the threat of cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is one of Commerceâ€™s bureaus, advances cutting-edge technology and industry standards and has conducted cybersecurity research for as long as there has been cyberspace. NIST has worked with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County on projects designed to secure electronic health information; protect assets in the financial services sector; and defend our energy infrastructure.