Government focuses on young people to tackle cyberskills shortage

The British government has pledged to deliver a “cyber curriculum”, aiming to address the much-talked-about skills shortage, which is causing pay hikes as well as security risks.

Called the Cyber Schools programme, it is aimed at people between 14 and 18 and is funded to the tune of £20m. For that, the scheme aims to have 5,700 teenagers trained by 2021.

Similar initiatives are happening internationally. Graham Hunter, VP Certifications, Europe and Middle East at industry body CompTIA, said his organisation had supported initiatives such as and offered professional certifications as a result.

He approved of the UK scheme in principle, saying:

The plan is ambitious, but with the pressure already placed on teachers to deliver a packed curriculum, the idea of getting cross-industry partners to come together in a number of consortia to bid on this will ensure it has fresh, engaging material to inspire a new wave of schoolchildren interested in cybersecurity roles.

He also pointed to the resources available, saying:

CompTIA as well as other sponsors has already contributed to a schools programme as supporters of the Cyber Security Challenge. Adoption is often down to the interest of the teachers and not the student, so by having an extracurricular offering, utlilising industry advocates and trainers with real-world experience is a good thing. Scalability will be a challenge, but technology can help.

The apparently low amount of funding might be a good thing, he added.

The government wants to kickstart a sustainable programme. Much like the coding clubs you see inspiring a generation of coders, cyberclubs can play a role in developing the right mindset, skills and awareness of roles available.

£20m is sufficient to get industry to come together and if there is one thing that cybersecurity specialists are good at, it is finding solutions to tricky problems, be it the latest botnet or in this case making scarce resources go far.

It has perhaps taken this injection of cash to corral the industry resources, organisations such as BT have already have schools outreach programmes, it would be to their credit if they and other organisations come together in a non-competitive way to solve the skills gap issue, only then will the funding be sufficient.