An alliance of IT industry organisations has set up a sponsorship scheme to encourage people to acquire the cyber security skills to protect UK business and infrastructure.
The Cyber Security Skills Alliance is led by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and includes the BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT, The Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP), e-skills UK and the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC).
The sponsorship scheme will fund bursaries for those studying masters-level degrees in cyber security.
The aim is to equip students with skills they can apply in their current job, or to give them the opportunity to develop a career in a cyber security role.
Initially, the scheme will be available for existing MSc. courses at De Montfort University, Lancaster University, Plymouth University and University of Warwick.
Hugh Boyes, the IET’s cyber security expert, said: “We surveyed 250 SMEs working in engineering and technology sectors and the results showed that a significant lack of skilled workers was hampering the UK's fight against cyber crime.
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“As a result, we have formed the alliance, bringing together relevant expert organisations. Our objectives are to ensure a clear career path for cyber security professionals, as well as a flow of high calibre professionals adequate to meet the UK’s strategic needs.”
In its 2011 UK Cyber Security Strategy, the government identified the problem of maintaining an adequate supply of relevant skills and declared its intention to reverse the shortage so that the UK retains its leading position.
“The IET has launched the alliance with the aim of supporting the government in achieving this goal,” said Boyes.
“Cyber security threats affect both major UK employers and their supply chains. In developing this scheme we are encouraging major employers to use it to develop the skills both among their own staff and those employed in their supply chain. This will increase the ability of industry and commerce to address these threats.”
A crucial part of the alliance is the bringing together of students, employers and course providers, which will be enhanced with a series of continuing professional development activities.
The scheme will also promote the sharing of the latest cyber security research to students, graduates and sponsors.
Each bursary is for £12,000, of which £10,000 goes directly to the student and the remaining £2,000 covers the provision of CPD and networking opportunities.