Last month, there was a “disturbance in the force” when it comes to your career. As part of our work in managing and creating new CompTIA certifications, my team tracks many directives, frameworks and standards worldwide, from the UK to Japan and the U.S. and elsewhere. On August 11, representatives of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) signed the 8140 DoD directive. 8140 replaces the 8570 directive, which directed all DoD personnel and their contractors to be certified in their respective fields. What does this change mean to you? Well, in some ways, 8570 is dead, long live 8570. Let me explain.
The Return of the Son of 8570
Even though the new 8140 directive is now in force and supersedes 8570, the DoD still needs to create something very important: The actual 8140 manual. Until someone creates this manual, no one has any practical instructions. The problem is; it often takes years to create a manual. It took the DoD about two years to create the 8570 manual. So, what is going to happen in the meantime? Simple; the DoD will use the 8570 manual, which is called 8570.01-M. So, 8570 as a directive is gone. Kaput. Outta here. But for now, 8140 has adopted the 8570.01-M manual as a stand-in for the 8140 manual, which is being written.
For the foreseeable future – the next three years, possibly – things will continue on as they have for the past several years: All affected organizations and their contractors still need to comply with the 8570.01-M manual and get certified.
So, why sign the 8140 directive at all? 8140 is more flexible and inclusive. Years ago, the people at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) created the NICE framework independent of the 8570 initiative. NICE identifies critical knowledge, skills and abilities for critical job roles. It also emphasizes hands-on experience and training. Unlike, 8570, 8140 has the ability to include NICE and other approaches.
By this point you might be saying, “Got it. But so what? How does any of this affect me and my career?”
In the long run, this new 8140 disturbance in the (IT work)force actually means quite a bit for you. First of all, educators and industry often pay close attention to government standards. This initiative – including its emphasis on practical “live fire” training – will trickle down to you. Second, this initiative is designed to make the DoD more secure.
Earlier this year, I spoke with Keith Boring, who works for the Department of Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (DON COOL) office. He has two major goals. First, he wants to create a skilled workforce that can secure all U.S. Navy systems. Second, he wants to make sure that all veterans can use their experience and get a job when they enter the private sector. Employability is critical to him. The same applies to the U.S. Army as well.
Over the summer, I spent time with many tech workers in and out of the military at events such as AFCEA West in San Diego and at the Technology and Cyber Day at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State. One of the people I met, Major Lewis Seau, told me that now that he’s an old man, just 40, he’s retiring from the Army and is ready to embark on a civilian IT career. His certification, combined with his experience, has positioned him for a rewarding career and consulting positions. It’s exciting to see how initiatives such as 8570 (alas, we hardly knew ye) and now 8140 will continue to affect the lives of thousands worldwide.
It’s not just about the U.S., either. About a year ago, I met Stefan Dudde, a cryptographer working in Germany, at the CompTIA EMEA conference. Dudde, and people I met at GITEX in Dubai and the NYU Abu Dhabi “Cyber Stability and Security in the Gulf” event, all had similar stories to tell: Government education initiatives can have tremendously positive impacts on people’s lives.
What will happen in the future? In the long run, the government and industry alike will continue to emphasize performance-oriented and outcome-based education. 8140 is a powerful example of this particular trend. Governments and industry across the globe remain interested in making sure that people learn by experience through approaches such as:
Live fire labs and exercises: Exercises on virtualized networks that allow individuals to gain hands-on experience using the latest equipment and best practices. Hiring managers are interested in hiring people who have gained wisdom from this type of experience.
Apprenticeships: In apprenticeships, workers are educated right on the job. The UK has led the world in this area – the U.S. can learn quite a bit here.
So, now that 8140 has been signed, and now that more individuals than ever before are entering the workforce through the armed forces, we’re watching the effects on the industry. It’s going to be interesting to watch the certification and publishing industry play catch up in regards to hands-on training.
James Stanger is Senior Director, Product Development, Skills Certification at CompTIA.