Cyber Discovery programme launches

The new programme from the UK government has launched to unveil the undiscovered cyber security talent of pupils in years 10-13

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched its landmark cyber security training programme aimed at young people in school years 10-13 – ‘Cyber Discovery.’  The initiative aims to help plug the UK’s cyber security skills gap by tapping into young and undiscovered talent with the ambition of stimulating and nurturing interest in cyber security as a future career path. 

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, said, “This Government is committed to improving the skills of the next generation and encouraging the best young minds into cyber security. Cyber Discovery will help inspire the digital talent of tomorrow and give thousands of young people the opportunity to develop cutting-edge cyber security skills and fast-track future careers. This important programme is part of our £1.9 billion investment to protect from online threats and make Britain the safest place to be online.’

James Lyne, Global Head of Research and Development at delivery partner SANS Institute, said of the programme, “It’s been a privilege to be involved in a programme that aligns exactly with what SANS stands for: training to fill the cyber security skills gap. Using gamification to teach is a great and innovative way of ensuring interest is captured early on in this technology-led generation, which is something I, personally, am very excited about being a part of. 

Delivered by a consortium of SANS Institute, BT, Cyber Security Challenge UK, and FutureLearn, Cyber Discovery is a free programme and is open to young people in years 10-13 who are successful during the initial assessment stage. Individuals who register for the new extracurricular cyber security programme will have until early January to undertake the online assessment, which aims to find the best and brightest young talent. 

The successful participants will then be nurtured and developed through a comprehensive cyber security curriculum which uses gamified learning and has been created by the industry’s top experts. Those who show enthusiasm and aptitude will be invited for further exciting opportunities including being part of an elite club which will include lots of exciting opportunities and teaching from cyber security experts. They will also have an opportunity to attend a three-day regional camp, have access to over 300 hours of games and online training. 

The curriculum will cover everything from digital forensics, defending against web attacks and cryptography, to Linux, programming and ethics, providing a clear entry path to future cyber security roles. The course content is fun and challenging, delivered through a role-playing game and mixing online teaching, face to face learning opportunities with real-world technical challenges.

It’s a crucial time for the cyber sector and it’s vital we fill the talent gap in this space. We look forward to providing courses to support the students by enhancing their employability and their transition into higher education. – Simon Nelson, Chief Exec., FutureLearn

Cyber Discovery will also make use of extra-curricular ‘clubs’ where participants can chat and collaborate, with guidance from an adult mentor or club leader. Working in a club allows students to share ideas and take guidance from the club leader who will also monitor their progress. Teachers, parents and those in the industry are encouraged to sign up to run a ‘club’.

Debbie Tunstall, Head of Education at Cyber Security Challenge UK, said, “Cyber security is an industry that’s still in its infancy, meaning very few young people know and understand that there are lucrative careers awaiting them in the field. With a critical skills gap looming and the cybercrime threat growing, we need to educate about cyber security while individuals are still young; peaking their interest in future cyber careers and as a result, filling the pipeline of talent. The challenge has years of experience in dealing with people in this age group and providing fun and educational face-to-face events and we’re delighted to bring our expertise to this innovative programme”

Mark Hughes, CEO BT Security, said, “Organised crime has moved online while countries across the globe are also battling with hacktivism and cyber espionage. The cyber-crime industry is getting bigger, stronger and more sophisticated in its techniques of attack. So it’s vital that we start engaging and encouraging young people in developing their cyber skills now, to further bolster the UK’s defences against the escalating level of the threat. As a key delivery partner for the Cyber Discovery programme, BT is looking forward to inspiring the next generation of cyber security professionals and equipping them with the skills they need to beat cyber-criminals at their own game.”

Simon Nelson, Chief Executive at FutureLearn, commented, “We’re passionate about transforming access to education and we’re delighted to be part of the team that is identifying and nurturing our next generation of cyber talent. It’s a crucial time for the cyber sector and it’s vital we fill the talent gap in this space. We look forward to providing courses to support the students by enhancing their employability and their transition into higher education. We also look forward to helping the teachers, parents and club leaders who will play a key role in supporting students through the programme.” 

Cyber Discovery consists of four stages. Initially students are invited to register and work through a selection tool, CyberStart Assess. Successful students will go onto three challenging and exciting stages which will later include Face to Face camps with industry experts, and three live regional Capture the Flag events where parents and leaders can see the progress made by students. 

Cyber Discovery is being piloted in year one in England but is expected to expand to other parts of the UK in years 2, 3 and 4. 

The £20 million Cyber Discovery programme is part of the Government’s £1.9 billion investment to significantly transform the UK’s cyber security. 

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