Microsoft, MasterCard, and Workday announced this week they’ve teamed with 11 federal government agencies as part of a Cybersecurity Talent Initiative meant to fill hundreds of thousands of open cybersecurity jobs. Graduating college students can apply for a two-year placement in a security role at the FBI, CIA, or another agency. At the end of that two years they’ll be eligible for a position at one of those three companies, which will pay up to $75,000 of their student loan debt as part of their deal.

The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative appears to be unique in the way it offers student loan assistance, but it’s hardly the only corporate effort meant to enhance an enterprise’s security posture.

MasterCard and Microsoft also are involved with the Cyber Readiness Institute, a program in which Fortune 500 companies distribute education materials to smaller companies as part of an effort to strengthen supply chain security. Big companies might be able to avoid the costs of data breaches that start at smaller vendors by helping those companies secure their systems.

The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative operates based on the same logic. By forming a pipeline of trained technologists, and offering to help with crippling student loan debt, participating companies can increase their chances at hiring network defenders.

The program is a reflection of how difficult it has become for all but the trendiest companies to recruit the talent they need to defend networks and customer information. Bureaucratic government agencies and everyone save a small number of Silicon Valley companies for years have struggled to convince the best candidates to come work for them, instead of firms that are experimenting with emerging concepts like machine learning and threat intelligence.

Read more about this program.

Participating government agencies include the CIA, FBI, Naval Intelligence, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Election Commission, the Small Business Administration, and the departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs. 

IUP Institute for Cyber Security