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November 15, 2017

£20m cyber security training programme launched to help tackle skills gap

Can the UK Government bridge the cyber security skills gap with new £20m education programme?

By April Slattery

Young people have been targeted to help bridge the cyber security skills gap as the government launches a new programme to help with skills development.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a £20m cyber security training programme ‘Cyber Discovery’ aimed at teenagers across school years 10-13.

Cyber Discovery aims to plug the UK’s cyber security skills gap by encouraging young people to take an interest in the subject and develop undiscovered talent among younger generations.

The programme will be delivered by a consortium of organisations including SANS Institute, BT, Cyber Security Challenge UK and FutureLearn. Cyber Discovery is a free extra-curricular programme, open to young people who are successful in the initial assessment stage.

The consortium’s programme has four stages. Initially, students are invited to register and work through CyberStart Assess. From there, successful students will go onto three challenging stages that include face to face ‘camps’ with industry experts. The final stage is then three regional events that parents and leaders can attend to see the progress students have made.

£20m Cyber Security training programme to tackle skills gap

School students get educated with £20m cyber security programme.

James Lyne, Global Head of Research and Development at delivery partner SANS Institute: “Using gamification to teach is a great and innovative way of ensuring interest is captured early on in this technology-led generation, which is something I, personally, I am very excited about being a part of.

“It’s been a privilege to be involved in a programme that aligns exactly with what SANS stands for: training to fill the cyber security skills gap.”

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Cyber Discovery’s curriculum plans to cover all subjects from digital forensics, defending against web attacks and cryptography to programming and ethics, providing participants with a clear path to future roles in cyber security careers.

Mark Hughes, CEO BT Security, said: “Organised crime has moved online while countries across the globe are also battling with hacktivism and cyber espionage. The cyber-crime industry is getting bigger, stronger and more sophisticated in its techniques of attack.

“It’s vital that we start engaging and encouraging young people in developing their cyber skills now, to further bolster the UK’s defences against the escalating level of the threat. As a key delivery partner for the Cyber Discovery programme, BT is looking forward to inspiring the next generation of cyber security professionals and equipping them with the skills they need to beat cyber-criminals at their own game.”

In order to engage and entice young people to take part in the programme, Cyber Discovery will be delivered through fun activities such as role-playing games, online teaching and face-to-face learning opportunities testing youngsters with real-world technical challenges.

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As cyber security seemingly worsens, as more and more organisations are hit by cyber-attacks the need to introduce and develop new talent is now crucial. Implementing the programme will hopefully bring a new lease of talent to the cyber-security world, and in turn help close the skills gap and better protect organisations of the present and the future.

Debbie Tunstall, Head of Education at Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “Cyber security is an industry that’s still in its infancy, meaning very few young people know and understand that there are lucrative careers awaiting them in the field.

“With a critical skills gap looming and the cybercrime threat growing, we need to educate about cyber security while individuals are still young; peaking their interest in future cyber careers and as a result, filling the pipeline of talent.

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