More than 1,000 secondary school pupils have said they are inspired to consider a career in cyber security after participating in a series of careers workshops and online learning activities delivered by employers and supported by e-skills UK.
The workshops, part of the Secure Futures programme, have two aims: they teach young people how to stay secure online; and they make the link between techniques used to ensure students’ own safety, and those used by government and business to protect the nation from cyber threats.
Employers of cyber professionals have been leading the Secure Futures programme since last September, to introduce young people to the exciting world of cyber security careers. This is important because research delivered last year by e-skills UK showed the sector faces an aging workforce, with only 7% of security professionals aged under 30.
Mark Smyth-Roberts, Business Director at C3IA Solutions Limited said: “Because the sector is facing serious challenges in recruiting and developing cyber security talent, it’s essential that we work together to introduce young people to the rewarding careers that exist in the industry. Employer outreach to schools is one of the ways that the tech sector is helping to develop a sustainable skills pipeline that will ensure the UK’s future as a global leader in cyber security.”
At the workshops, the students heard from cyber professionals and took part in activities based on real-life examples. The events went down a storm, with the majority of 14-16 year olds reporting that the workshops had inspired them to consider a career in cyber security. Further outreach activities are expected to inspire thousands more young people into cyber careers.
The Secure Futures website also provides access to free teaching resources that recreate the exciting world of cyber security in the classroom. Pupils learn how online information is stolen and how it can be protected; how criminals can be caught with digital forensics; and how businesses and government can prepare for and recover from cyber attacks. In one online game, students try to catch criminals responsible for threatening the Global Games.
Secure Futures is part of BigAmbition, the careers website of the digital industries, which shows young people how exciting and rewarding technology jobs can be. BigAmbition is just one way that employers, supported by e-skills UK, are taking the lead on attracting bright young people into the field. The programme is supported through the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) under the Growth and Innovation Fund.
Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK said: “”I’m delighted that Secure Futures has introduced thousands of young people to the dynamic world of cyber security, in this challenging and exciting way. I hope that by demystifying cyber careers, young people will feel that opportunities in this amazing area are well within reach. There has never been a more urgent time to act because the sector is facing a skills shortage in this strategically important area to the UK economy.”