A £20 million initiative has been launched by the government to identify and train the next generation of cyber security experts – to keep Britain ahead of any would-be hackers.
It’s hoped that the Cyber Discovery programme will not just get young people interested in security work but also fill an important skills gap in the UK marketplace.
An estimate by Cybersecurity Ventures claimed there could be as many as 3 million unfilled jobs within the industry by 2021.
It’s thought, however, the talent pool is already there, thanks to today’s digital natives being skilled not just in administrative tasks but basic coding also. According to industry veteran Ian Glover, this gives them “50% of the core skills” needed to work in cyber-security.
Aimed at 14 to 18-year olds, the government scheme will vet applicants through a series of online and offline challenges. Successful candidates will then be offered a comprehensive curriculum covering all things cyber-security related, including digital forensics, cryptography and programming, as well as practical advice on protection against hacks. Students will also learn about the ethics of hacking.
To fully equip participants in both the theory and practice of cyber security, the course will be delivered via a mix of online challenges, face-to-face learning, role-playing and real-world technical challenges. Anyone who shows real promise, or wants to develop their skills further, will also be able to take part in additional, extra-curricular activities.
Candidates that fit within the age range can undertake an online assessment via joincyberdiscovery.com to assess their suitability. The best performers who showed enough promise will then be offered the full curriculum.
This is, of course, just one of the many cyber-security programmes aimed at training up some of Britain’s best minds. Others include Qufaro’s Extended Project Qualification, which it offers within the rather fitting surrounds of Bletchley Park. This course has even piqued the interest of professional services firm Deloitte, which offered to cover the fees of all students in the 2017-18 programme. The company’s head of cyber-risk, Phil Everson, told the BBC: “We want to try to give the younger generation who have grown up with the internet an awareness of security and its implications.”