Cyber security is no longer exclusive to government agencies and defence contractors.
We recenty attended the CyberFirst event in London which revealed an exciting government initiative to engage 5,000 children, from 11 to 17, in cyber security – a huge increase from 800 last year.
CyberFirst is an initiative by the government to create a healthy pipeline of cyber security professionals who will plug the cyber skills gap and make Britain’s businesses safe from cyber criminals.
The latest government initiative is targeted at ‘Cyberists’, the next generation of cyber security hot shots. By 2020, the government wants 1000 graduates to have gone through CyberFirst, the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme for 14-18 years old.
There are lots of incentives for girls including a CyberFirst Girls Competition with puzzles and games to excite and inspire a much-needed female presence in a male dominated industry.
This is not another weak partnership between industry and Government. Chris Ensor, Deputy Director for NCSC skills and growth, has the vision, energy and drive to make it happen stating “this is the first time government and industry have come together to make a concerted attempt to inspire and support a whole generation of young people to take up a role in cyber security.
Cyber security is a fascinating career choice which is fundamental to our modern digital society and we are delighted our industry colleagues are supporting CyberFirst.”
At the event, Ciaran Martin, National Cyber Security Centre Chief Executive, stated he wanted a true partnership between government and industry.
Gareth Williams, Vice President, Secure Communications & Information Systems UK, Thales reinforced the concept that placement students need to work in the real world, rather than simply learn classroom theory.
As security breaches and hacking becomes a very real threat to every single business which relies on technology to function, cyber security knowledge has become one of the most sought after skillsets for employers.
The problem is not limited to the UK. There is a global skills shortage. In the US a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics by Peninsula Press, a project of the Stanford University Journalism Program, stated a 75% increase in cyber security job postings, and at any one time more than 209,000 cyber security jobs are unfilled. The remuneration is tempting – those with cyber security certifications can command a premium of 10% more than their information security peers.
The skills gap will take time to fill but the government is very proactive at making the UK a secure place to do business. Cyber Essentials is a low-cost certification which provides a health check of the security of a businesses’ information systems. Since 2014 it has been a mandatory requirement for companies bidding for government contracts. Over 5000 UK businesses have Cyber Essentials certification.
The future looks bright for the next generation of cyber security professionals but the success and the security of British businesses will rely on a collaboration between industry and government.
Author - Alicia Holbrook
Originally published - 3 February 2017