GCHQ to launch CyberFirst Schools initiative in the north-west

The aim of the initiative is to inspire more young people to consider careers in cybersecurity and technology

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is bringing its CyberFirst Schools initiative to the north-west for the first time with MediaCity innovation hub HOST.

HOST will deliver the CyberFirst Schools pilot over a one-year period to over 500 schools and colleges from across the north-west.

HOST, operated by IN4 Group, will draw on its local and national employer network to help increase engagement between industry and schools in the region.

It is hoped this will enable more young people to access opportunities, such as mentoring and work experience, outside the classroom and in the growing technology sector.

The initiative is designed to open up opportunities in cybersecurity to all students, but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups, including girls and young women.

Female representation in the sector is considerably low, with women accounting for just 22 per cent of the UK’s cyber workforce.

Since its launch in 2020, 49 CyberFirst schools and colleges have been recognised with either a gold, silver or bronze status, helping to develop cyber skills ecosystems around the country and addressing the industry’s cyber skills gap.

The 2022 CyberFirst Girls Competition final was also held at HOST in Salford and was focused on inspiring girls aged 12 to 13 to consider pursuing careers in cybersecurity.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, said: “This will have a huge impact on young people across the region, who are currently living in places like Salford, Accrington and Blackpool. The bringing together of education, skills, technology and industry is the key enabler to creating prosperity in the region.

“With the UK government’s investment of more than £5 billion into its new National Cyber Force in Samlesbury, Lancashire, the region is leading the way to establish further innovation and skills as part of the emerging north-west Cyber Corridor.”

Read more: Third of schools lack cybersecurity policies, suggests survey

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