The SQA National Progression Awards in Cyber Security are intended to develop digital resilience skills and knowledge in individuals and help them identify, understand and manage the host of online threats organisations and individuals face on a daily basis.
Each of the new qualifications, which are available at levels four, five and six on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, will see learners work towards units in Data Security, Digital Forensics and Ethical Hacking. The overall aim of the new courses is to develop knowledgeable and skilled individuals who are aware of the potential misuses of, and unauthorised access to online networks and devices.
Significantly, the new awards are also the first of their kind to be available to school age learners; as well as those studying in college or learning through an employer or a training provider.
Speaking about the need for such awards, Dr Gill Stewart, Qualifications Director at SQA, said: “The challenge facing governments, businesses and individuals in securing their online presence couldn’t be greater. With the number of devices connected to the internet set to exceed 50 billion in the next five years and the rate of activity and volume of information available online only set to increase, opportunities for malicious intent are ever growing.
“To face these challenges, more people need to be trained, recruited and working in cyber security roles. By offering these qualifications at these levels, we are providing an excellent entry point for learners into the sector. The awards have been developed in partnership with industry experts to capture the interest of learners and provide an excellent starting point for those keen to develop their skills and embark upon a career in digital security.”
Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth Employment, said: “These qualifications have an important role to play in supporting those with a working interest in the fast-moving environment of cyber security. Education and skills in cyber is one of the core aspects of developing a cyber-resilient nation and meeting the national and international demand for cyber security specialists. The Scottish Government is taking a close interest in this area and will shortly be publishing a Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland.”
Detective Inspector Eamonn Keane, from Police Scotland, said: “The nature of crime is changing with nearly all types of criminality now having a digital element. Police Scotland has a duty to protect its communities in both the real and virtual worlds, and we are delighted to contribute and participate in this collaborative initiative to enhance, build and develop our digital work force capability.
“We recognise the need to ensure we build on the indigenous talents we produce to develop good investigators and innovative digital analysts to tackle and prevent cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime in Scotland, thereby keeping people safe and disrupting crime.”
Mark Gibson, Sales Director at Bloxx, commented: “This qualification has been a long time coming and is a line in the sand for other organisations. The progressive and dynamic nature of cyber security alongside the continually evolving threat landscape means that we need to inspire and engage the next generation of security professionals, if Scotland and indeed the UK as a whole is to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.
“The launch of this qualification is by no means job done but very much the start line as no doubt the course will continue to evolve and be driven by emerging threats and landscapes.”