Cyber security skills initiative extends to Scotland and Northern Ireland after successful trial in England

Cybersecurity lesson in progress

The Cyber Discovery scheme launched by the UK government will be extending to Scotland and Northern Ireland, to boost cyber security skill development beyond England.

In response to the ever increasing global cyber security threat, last year the government made a bid to grow the UK's talent in the field by encouraging young people to pursue careers in cyber security through the Cyber Discovery scheme.

The scheme is part of Cyber First, the government's cyber security skills program which has received a 1.9 billion investment through the National Cyber Security Strategy to transform the landscape of UK's cyber security.

According to the government, in its debut year the scheme saw over 23,000 young people aged 14-18 in England sign up and participate in the extra-curricular program.

Typically run in clubs by computer science teachers, students involved in the scheme play interactive games which aim to get young people engaged with cyber security in a fun and accessible way. Those who perform at the highest levels will also have the opportunity to attend a special summer camp to hone their skills and meet industry leaders - 170 made the cut last year.

"We need to inspire young people and show them a career in Cyber Security can be exciting and rewarding, not only to give them more opportunities but also help build a talented workforce for the future. The Cyber Discovery programme has been a great success so far. I hope more teenagers will take part and learn that those working in cyber security can come from any walk of life, and have studied any subject," said Minister for Digital Margot James.

The 20 million Cyber Discovery programme teaches students about subjects including digital forensics, defending against web attacks and cryptography.

As well as computer science teachers, it is also being delivered by IT security training company the SANS Institute. It's also a part of a long-term modern Industrial Strategy plan devised by the government to ensure that businesses have the skilled workers they need here in Britain.

"Based on the success of last year's Cyber Discovery programme, it's clear there's both the appetite and the aptitude to learn about cyber security in the UK. Before taking part in Cyber Discovery 40.4% of female students and 35.5% of male students hadn't even considered a career in cyber security. This dropped to 9.6% and 6.3% respectively after these students took part in the programme," said Head of Research and Development for SANS Institute James Lyne.

Over 50% of students who took part in the initial assessment were invited to play the game in year one and 75% of all applicants are considering applying again in year two. Registration is open now for all 14-18-year-old students in the UK and closes 7 January 2019.

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.