UK government issues big funding boost to search for diverse talent

Diverse people

The government's cyber security inclusivity fund has received a third bout of cash injection which aims to attract minorities into the field.

Applications for the Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund (CSIIF) is open to training providers who can now bid for up to 100,000 to work with employers and design training programmes which attract under-represented groups to cyber security.

Individuals that are particularly sought after are women, neurodiverse candidates and underrepresented ethnicities such as BAME.

"The UK is a world leader in tackling cyber attacks but we must make sure we continue to develop the talent we need to protect the public and business online," said cyber security minister Nigel Adams who launched the fund on Wednesday.

"This latest round of funding demonstrates our commitment to make sure the UK's cyber security industry has a skilled and diverse workforce and, through our new Cyber Security Council, there are clear paths for those wishing to join the profession," he added.

The CSIIF was established in October 2018 to attract people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in cyber security; a field in which demand for talent far outweighs the supply.

Brighton-based Crucial Academy already aims to train those of diverse backgrounds, as well as veterans, offering an intensive three-week cyber security course "in a state-of-the-art virtual lab environment".

Another initiative supported by the CSIIF is HACKED which operates in Plymouth by Blue Screen IT to identify, train and place individuals into cyber security careers. It particularly aims to advantage people with special needs, neurodiversity, and disadvantaged backgrounds by providing real-world security experiences in its own security operations centre (SOC).

In addition to the latest funding to the CSIIF, Adams also announced the launch of the UK Cyber Security Council (UKCSC), lead by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The UKCSC will oversee the profession as a whole to ensure barriers to entry are low and the routes into it are well-structured, making it as easy as possible for training centres to plug the skills gap.

"Increasing diversity in the sector is one way in which we can seek to plug the growing cyber skills gap, and that is why initiatives like the Immediate Impact Fund are so important," said Jacqueline de Rojas, president at techUK.

"Coupled with the creation of a new Cyber Security Council that will create clearer pathways for people entering the sector, these announcements will go a long way to ensuring that we create and nurture our cyber professionals and continue making the UK the safest place to be online."

Diversity is a particular area of IT that hasn't been satisfactorily addressed, at least that's according to women surveyed recently.

More than 50% of women in tech believe that diversity isn't being tackled well enough and businesses must stop with their 'half-hearted' approach to inclusivity.

However, outside of businesses, the government has an abundance of initiatives to help more people get involved with cyber security as the demand for talent rises and the global threat landscape widens every day.

Code 4000 is one example, the non-profit organisation has set its sights on changing prisoners' lives around by teaching them how to code, stop re-offending and get jobs in one of the fastest-growing job markets in the UK.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.