The UK’s cyber industry is growing rapidly, with the cyber sector estimated to be worth £10.5 billion. However, it’s facing a skills shortage as a result. A report on Cyber security skills in the UK market published last year found that half of the businesses had a fundamental cyber skills gap, and job postings rose by 30%.
To address the shortfall in cyber professionals, the government launched Cyber Explorers on Feb 22, aiming to equip pupils with the skills/knowledge to pursue computer science courses at Key Stage 4, opening up various opportunities for further training/employment. This week as schools return, the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology is reminding schools of the initiative and encouraging them to take advantage of the free resources available to boost cyber skills and set up young people for careers in Cyber.
Since its launch, more than 50,000 students from 2,000 schools across the country have signed up for Cyber Explorers, a free learning platform the UK government provides that introduces young people to the importance of Cyber security concepts. Our Director of Cyber Security and Electronic Counter Measures believes this an important initiative to address the shortfall in cyber professionals and interest them in cyber at an early age; it also assists in raising awareness of the ever-evolving threats in the cyber domain.
This initiative is about investing in the next generation of cyber professionals, which will assist the UK in enhancing security protection against malicious actors. Assistance for young minds is critical, and helping them develop with technology in mind will only strengthen the security market.
Valkyrie are great advocates of this sort of initiative as we are with awareness and training. While cyberbullying and cyber safety have become critical parts of the curriculum in many schools, other essential cybersecurity advice often gets overlooked. Ideally, prevention measures and education on such topics as malicious advertising (‘malvertising’) must be added to the curriculum and continually reinforced before more children become victims of online crime.
We regularly conduct work experience for want-to-be security/cyber professionals, which assists in getting real-life experience on matters and how to deal with different incidents and scenarios. Valkyrie also provides training packages for various organisations, half of which are schools. Similar to the government initiative, we talk about the sector at a high-level and what kind of roles there are within the Cyber sector. Cyber is not just about hacking; there are a plethora of roles to cover within cyberspace, and raising awareness about this is vital.
Remember, Cyber isn’t an IT issue; it’s everybody’s issue and the more we collaborate, the safer we all will be.