The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded grants totaling nearly $1 million for five projects that are taking a community approach to addressing the nation’s shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees, the agency said Sept. 20.

The NIST-led National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a partnership between government, academia and the private sector, will oversee the grants as part of its mission to support cybersecurity education, training and workforce development, said NIST.

According to a 2015 analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Stanford University’s Peninsula Press, there were more than 209,000 open cybersecurity positions in the United States, and the number of job postings had risen 74 percent in the previous five years. 

NIST will fund five nonprofit organizations to establish partnerships to increase the pipeline of students pursuing cybersecurity careers, help more Americans attain the skills they need for well-paying jobs in cybersecurity, and support local economic development to stimulate job growth. The partnerships will align the workforce needs of local business and nonprofit organizations with the learning objectives of the NICE Workforce Framework.

“The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education grants support job-driven training programs designed to fill the many cybersecurity job openings in both the public and private sectors,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

“As part of Commerce’s ‘Skills for Business’ initiative, these grants strengthen regional workforce partnerships that engage employers to close the gap between talent supply and demand in this critically important high-growth field,” she added.