An idea to consider
As a IT security professional, I try to attend conferences that will help me provide the best services to my employer. In almost all cases, I attend conferences while paying out of my own pocket in both conference fees AND on my own vacation time.
In most cases, my employers have been unable or unwilling, or both, to flip the bill for conference attendance. In a few cases, I did have the opportunity to go to conferences on official capacity with pay, but usually only for one day because they were unwilling to pay me for a multi-day conference. And in all cases, I only attended when the conference was within a commuting distance and only with an exhibit hall pass. Passes that included conference presentations and/or courses were out of the question due to cost.
I see this as another barrier to expanding the security workforce.
My suggestion: Offer the opportunity for ANY organization to apply to to get at least one (1) full pass to a conference for any employee of their choosing at no cost. Recommend the organization allow the employee to attend the conference with pay and travel/per diem costs (no promises there, but a message in this respect can go a long way toward the effort).
Reasoning: I know that some organizations understand the need for their professionals to attend such conferences and thus coordinate resources and timing accordingly.
But I also know that there are a large number of organizations that do NOT subscribe to that view for many different reasons.
If the IT security workforce movement is going to make any tracks in smaller, yet just as vulnerable industries and markets, there needs to be an effort to find ways to entice organizations to send talented people to collect and hopefully share the information and the message.
To me, the model of "We'll come half way if you come half way" is a great opportunity to expand the security field in new directions and into industries that historically have not engaged security conference attendance in the past.
Just a suggestion, but I think it may go a long way toward expanding the security workforce.
NOTE: If such opportunities already exist, these should be marketed very broadly and emphatically. And discounts do NOT work. I have seen management balk at 70% off the gate price on conference. Make it real by making it free for just one employee and I am almost certain that attendance, and the security workforce, will grow in time.