The UK’s plan to tackle the cyber security gap

The cyber security skills gap is a complicated problem that both businesses and governments have struggled to tackle.

The UK Government will hope its proposed Cyber Discovery programme will solve the looming crisis, in an attempt to build interest in the field of cyber security. The initiative will be aimed at 15 to 18-year-olds, and will involve challenges around battling hackers.

The free Cyber Discovery programme aims to “encourage the best young minds into cyber-security”, said Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in a statement.

The cyber security curriculum offered on the programme will contain: digital forensics, defending against web attacks, cryptography, programming and the ethics of hacking.

>See also: The cyber security skills gap in the UK: a multifaceted problem

Anthony Chadd, head of EMEA Security Solutions, Neustar was supportive of the government’s plan. “We support any initiative from the government to drive up awareness, interest and participation in cyber-security initiatives from young people. Today, there are three times as many IT jobs out there as there are available candidates, and this is an issue we need to address quickly if we are to prevent this current ‘skills gap’ from widening further.”

“As the cyber threat landscape continues to develop, we as a nation need the most highly skilled individuals to meet this demand and deliver the right results for organisations across all industry sectors. If we are to maintain our position as the digital capital of Europe, we must continue to make such bold investments and commitments to elevate the cyber-security industry – so it engages the next generation of leaders at an early stage of development.”

Cyber-training

The Cyber Discovery programme is one of a number of schemes aimed at closing the cyber security skills gap by promoting the industry, and increasing interest in the field.

For example, Qufaro is a cyber-training college at Bletchley Park which will provide an add-on to the existing ICT curriculum, focusing on security.

Budgie Dhanda, head of Qufaro, said that those who take this course will achieve an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which can be taken alongside AS and A levels.

>See also: Addressing the cyber security skills gap

“There are a lot of different modules in it that cover the spectrum of cyber-functions and capabilities the industry requires,” he said.

Deloitte has said it will pay the fees of any students who take on the cyber EPQ in 2017-18. Phil Everson, head of cyber-risk at Deloitte, cited the problem of the growing cyber security skills gap as the motivation behind this pledge.

“There’s already significant global demand for cyber-talent across the world,” he said. “And there are not enough skilled people to meet that demand.”

“We want to try to give the younger generation who have grown up with the internet an awareness of security and its implications,” he said. “The course is about foundational skills and abilities.”

>See also: UK education system exacerbating cyber skills gap

Indeed, some predict the problem will become so bad that there could be more than 3 million unfilled jobs in the cyber security industry by 2021.

It is clear more has to be done, but this new government awareness programme, and the promotion of cyber security academic qualifications will be vital in closing the gap. The influence of leaders within the technology industry will also be crucial.

 

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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