As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Francis Maude MP – the Minister for the Cabinet Office – has unveiled a raft of new initiatives designed to help young people kick-start a career in cyber security. Those initiatives include new apprenticeships, more civil service cyber specialists and offering cyber security training in further and higher education.
The UK cyber security industry is worth £6 billion, employs over 40,000 people and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. With awareness of cyber threats increasing, businesses and Government alike are taking steps to encourage people studying or entering the job market to view cyber security as an exciting and rewarding career and thus fill an increasing demand in this sector for competent and skilled professionals.
To achieve this, the Government’s National Cyber Security Programme – working in partnership with a range of organisations – is backing new initiatives such as apprenticeship schemes and further education initiatives which will broaden entry routes into the profession. These include:
*Introducing a new cyber strand to the civil service fast-track apprenticeship scheme: Through the Tech Partnership, employers have created the first-ever apprenticeship frameworks in cyber security. With the Government’s additional 50 fast-track places now coming on stream this year, that means over 250 new entry-level jobs for school leavers with more in the pipeline
*Introducing cyber specialist apprenticeships: The Tech Partnership is introducing a new specialist cyber security apprenticeship to train young people to become cyber intrusion analysts, monitoring and defending organisations from attack in Security Operations Centres. The first vacancies are expected in autumn 2015
*Boosting civil service cyber specialists: Cyber security is now a skills discipline in the newly revised Civil Service Digital & Technology (DaT) Fast Stream. Graduate participants will gain valuable technical experience as part of the broad curriculum and can specialise in their third year. In support of the Government’s commitment to providing services that are digital by default, the DaT Fast Stream intake will be increased this year from 70 to 80
*Further education: Cyber security will be an integral feature of all computing and digital further education qualifications at Levels 3 and 4 from September 2016. This will mean that all 16- to 19-year-olds pursuing relevant vocational qualifications will receive a basic grounding in the fundamentals of cyber security
*Innovative education programmes (ranging from lesson plans and teaching materials to competitions and expert speakers) have been developed to help further education colleges and schools engage pupils in cyber security and highlight career opportunities. A guide to these programmes is now available.
*Cyber security for undergraduates: From next year, cyber security will become a mandatory element of all undergraduate courses accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Security is already a requirement for degrees accredited by the British Computer Society – the Chartered Institute for IT. Experts are coming together to propose a curriculum framework which will help universities understand and meet these requirements
*New ‘Cyber Citizens’: the National Citizen Service (NCS) will have a cyber security option through promoting the Cyber Security Challenge and other initiatives on the NCS Opportunity Hub to the 130,000 young people that have taken part in the NCS since 2011. Local NCS partners will gain links to cyber security organisations and information to support young people choosing to incorporate cyber security into social action projects that they take part in through the NCS.
Attracting the most gifted
Francis Maude MP commented: “The UK has a vibrant cyber security sector which we want to help grow. As part of this Government’s long term economic plan, we want the UK to be one of the safest places in which to do business online. We need a supply of cyber security experts for the future so we’re taking a series of further steps to attract the most gifted young people to this fast-moving area of technology.”
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, UK Managing Director of City & Guilds (one of the six Awarding Bodies including cyber security in computing courses) said: “City & Guilds is pleased to support the Government’s announcement that cyber security will be an integral feature of all computing and digital vocational qualifications from 2016 onwards. As digital technology becomes more commonplace and sophisticated, the public needs to stay safe. That’s why we’re enabling professionals to build better and more secure systems.”
Donnelly added: “The digital industries market is an ever-changing environment and it will continue to evolve. While this brings a huge range of opportunities, it also brings more risks. That’s why we’re so committed to helping develop the next generation of programmers, coders, network engineers and cyber security specialists. They will clearly have challenging but rewarding careers.”
Dr Janet Brown, CEO of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) which is also an Awarding Body, explained: “We welcome the UK Government’s announcement that cyber security will be an integral feature of all computing and digital vocational qualifications from 2016. The SQA understands the importance of developing engaging and relevant computing qualifications that will appeal to the next generation of programmers, coders, network engineers and cyber security specialists.”
Brown also said: “Computer science is a rapidly evolving environment and the qualifications that Awarding Bodies develop must capture the attentions of learners and demonstrate to them that computer science qualifications can provide a path towards a challenging and rewarding career.”
David MacKay, head of Awarding Body Stakeholder Engagement at Pearson, commented: “Pearson delivers a wide range of academic and vocational qualifications which develop an understanding of IT and computing. These qualifications currently contain units including cyber and information security. As part of our review process for these qualifications, we’re ensuring that relevant and up-to-date content on cyber and information security is included within the mandatory part of the specifications.”