Three leading technology companies have partnered with two Welsh colleges to pilot a brand-new initiative, designed to forge new routes into tech for future generations of digital learners.
Cyber College Cymru will provide digitally-minded students with a wealth of industry input and an innovative curriculum, developed with the colleges and the University of South Wales as part of the Welsh government’s Strategic Insight Programme.
The programme has the potential to be rolled out across the country, depending on its success.
Two cohorts of 20 students will kick off their studies in September at Bridgend College and the Ebbw Vale learning zone of Coleg Gwent. Completion of their studies will lead to a BTEC Extended Diploma – the recognised equivalent of three A-Levels.
Three industry giants – Fujitsu, Admiral and Thales – have assisted in moulding the curriculum, and will collectively offer more than 1,000 hours of input in the first year of the course, including mentoring, guest lectures, work placements and industry experience for the students selected for Cyber College Cymru.
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Speaking to teachers and students at an event in Ebbw Vale’s National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC), education minister Kirsty Williams said: “We’re always looking for ways to work with employers to get flexible, relevant learning.
“Cyber is about much more than staying safe online, and touches every part of our daily lives.
“If we can give Welsh teenagers a new route to study cyber at higher education or go straight into the industry, we’ll be giving them a real advantage in a major and growing industry.”
Steve Cottrell, group chief information security officer of Admiral and chair of the Cyber College working group, commented: “The Cyber College Cymru initiative is about industry partners coming together to work with our local colleges and develop something new and relevant for the skills needs we have, now and in the future.
“We all have a shared interest in growing our own talent: both getting Welsh teenagers to consider a career in cyber, and giving them the education and experience they need to meet that ambition. Cyber College Cymru is a great innovation driven by what we need in the world of industry and technology.”