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Pioneering Cyber Schools programme launched by DCMS

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's new programme will be delivered by FutureLearn and others

Posted by Charley Rogers | July 24, 2017 | Technology

Teenagers are being encouraged to register their interest in taking part in a cyber security schools programme being rolled out as part of plans to help the nation address the risk of a future skills shortage.

Today a new website has been launched where students, teachers and industry workers can register their interest. Teenagers are being encouraged to register to take part in the cyber security schools programme which will be rolled out as part of plans to help the nation address the risk of a future skills shortage. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)’s Cyber Schools Programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies through a nationwide network of extracurricular clubs, activities, and a new online game.

It aims to support and encourage schoolchildren to develop some of the key skills they would need to work in the growing cyber security sector and help defend the nation’s businesses against online threats.

SANS, BT, FutureLearn and Cyber Security Challenge UK have today been confirmed as partners to deliver the programme and prospective students, teachers, industry members and volunteers can now register their interest in advance of the scheme at https://hmgcyberschools.com

The Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock said: “Our Cyber Schools programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.

“I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cyber security career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme.”

Up to £20m has been made available to deliver the programme, which will see students take a comprehensive cyber curriculum mixing expert, instructor-led classroom and online teaching with real-world challenges, online games, and hands-on work experience.

Our Cyber Schools programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.

Students will be selected for the programme via a pre-entry assessment, and the scheme will provide them with clear pathways into the cyber security industry via direct contact with industry experts. Cyber security firms and industry volunteers are also encouraged to register their interest to be involved.

Applications are open to students aged 14 to 18, with hundreds of hours of extracurricular content designed to fill a four-year programme. It will be delivered in modules, and students up 18 years old can join at any time providing they meet the right criteria. Older students, for example, may work through the content and challenges at a faster pace.

The target is for at least 5,700 teenagers to be trained by 2021. The pilot programme year will be launched in the autumn.

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn commented, "FutureLearn is thrilled to be working with the DCMS on the Cyber Schools Programme. It’s an important initiative that will encourage young people to consider a career in cyber security. As well as learning skills to enhance the future of the cyber security sector, students enrolled in the programme will also have access to the FutureLearn platform which will introduce them to a wider range of skills highly sought after by employers and higher education institutions."

The news of the programme comes as DCMS also confirms £500k funding to continue a pilot to help adults who want to retrain for a job in cyber security by taking a GCHQ-accredited master's degree. Up to £500k will be distributed between participating universities to help those who want to use their skills and work experience to move into a cyber security career. 

I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cyber security career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme.

Those interested in applying must first be accepted onto participating courses and apply for the bursary through the university. These initiatives are all part of the Government’s National Cyber Security Programme to find, finesse, and fast-track tomorrow’s online security experts. This also includes:

      The Government’s Cyber Security Apprenticeships for Critical Sectors Scheme which is supporting leading employers in critical sectors including telecoms, broadcasting, energy and transport to develop the next generation of cyber security professionals through higher apprenticeships. It is currently open for applications for its second phase here.

      The CyberFirst bursary funding scheme offers grants of up to £4,000 for up to 1,000 students by 2020 to study a relevant degree, do a placement or attend a summer school, and, depending on meeting requirements, the chance to work in national security on graduation.

      There are also 1,250 free places on CyberFirst in 2017 and an additional CyberFirst Girls Competition, where teams of 12-to-14-year-old young women can pit their wits against one another to crack a series of online puzzles. 

Head of Research and Development at SANS, James Lynne, also commented on the partnership with DCMS, saying, “SANS is delighted to be involved in the cyber schools programme and we look forward to working alongside our partners on this important initiative. We believe it’s critical to introduce students to cyber security at a young age to make sure the UK is prepared for the future. SANS has a long history in cyber security training and also has experience in engaging and educating young people - showing them how exciting a career in cyber security can be. We look forward to helping to uncover the next generation of cyber security stars!”

 This article was updated on 25th July

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