Workshops supported by IT skills council e-skills UK have inspired more than 1,000 secondary school pupils to consider careers in cyber security.
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As part of the Secure Futures programme, students aged 14-16 took part in a series of career workshops and online learning activities, which were delivered by employers.
The programme aims to teach young people how to stay safe online, by making a link between ensuring students’ safety and the techniques used by the government and businesses to protect the country from cyber criminals.
The programme launched last September and is led by employers of cyber professionals. It aims to introduce young people to the possibility of a career in the sector, after e-skills research revealed only 7% of cyber professionals are under 30 years old.
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The Secure Futures website also offers teaching materials to enable pupils to learn further cyber security skills in the classroom. These include learning how information is stolen and how it can be protected, how to catch criminals with digital forensics and how business and government can prepare and defend themselves against cyber attacks.
Mark Smyth-Roberts, business director at C3IA Solutions Limited, said: “Because the sector is facing serious challenges in recruiting and developing cyber security talent, it’s essential that we work together to introduce young people to the rewarding careers that exist in the industry.
“Employer outreach to schools is one of the ways the tech sector is helping to develop a sustainable skills pipeline that will ensure the UK’s future as a global leader in cyber security.”
Karen Price, chief executive of e-skills UK, said: "I’m delighted that Secure Futures has introduced thousands of young people to the dynamic world of cyber security in this challenging and exciting way. I hope that by demystifying cyber careers, young people will feel that opportunities in this amazing area are well within reach.
“There has never been a more urgent time to act because the sector is facing a skills shortage in this strategically important area to the UK economy.”
Secure Futures is part of the digital careers website BigAmbition, which aims to show young people the range of jobs on offer in the sector and how rewarding a tech career can be.