Cyber Discovery seeks next generation of security talent

The launch of the new UK Government programme sees young people invited to test their skills in a bid to find and train cyber security talent

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched its cyber security training programme, Cyber Discovery, aimed at young people in school years 10-13. 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 the field 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.’

Delivered by a consortium of SANS Institute, BT, Cyber Security Challenge UK and FutureLearn, Cyber Discovery is a free programme 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.

Successful participants will then be nurtured and developed through a comprehensive cyber security curriculum, which uses gamified learning. Those who show enthusiasm and aptitude will be invited for further opportunities, including being part of an “elite club” including teaching from cyber security experts. They will also have an opportunity to attend a three-day regional camp, and 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.

DCMS is launching a series of posters to promote the initiative

Cyber Discovery will also make use of extra-curricular clubs, where participants will be able to chat and collaborate, with guidance from an adult mentor or club leader. 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. 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.”

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 stages which will include Face-to-Face camps with industry experts and three live regional Capture the Flag eventsm 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 programme is part of the Government’s £1.9 billion investment to significantly transform the UK’s cyber security.

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