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Government announces new plans to develop cyber talent

The government has announced plans for a Cyber Security Council to form a strategy for developing future cyber talent

A new Cyber Security Council will develop a strategy for training and developing cyber security talent.

Digital minister Margot James announced plans for the new council, which will run alongside a new Initial Cyber Security Skills Strategy, to ensure young people have a career pathway into cyber, as well as develop a skilled workforce to fit the UK’s needs now and in the future.

“Making sure we have a skilled cyber security workforce now and for the future is not only central to our national security but is also fundamental to the UK becoming the world’s best digital economy,” said James.

“This strategy alongside the creation of an independent UK Cyber Security Council will be the next step in equipping our growing and vibrant cyber security sector with the expertise it needs for years to come.”

Funding of up to £2.5m from the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme will be available to help develop the independent UK council.

The strategy will also involve appointing ambassadors who will promote cyber careers to diverse groups of young people, and invest in developing cyber professionals at all stages of the talent pipeline.

The strategy will also include a relaunch of the government’s CyberFirst in 2019 to provide a clearer skills pathway for those looking to go into a cyber career.

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Part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme, CyberFirst was initially developed as a pilot in 2016 to quickly find and develop cyber talent through competitions, paid placements, bursaries and the eventual promise of employment.

Skills shortages in cyber security has been a longstanding problem in the UK, causing concerns about business’s ability to defend against cyber attacks.

The increase in high profile breaches has raised the demand for cyber security professionals, and experts have advised firms to do more to develop cyber security skills to tackle the gap between demand and supply of talent.

The government’s new Cyber Security Skills Strategy, as well as the new Cyber Security Council, will eventually aim to develop a clear and simple pathway into a cyber career, and ensuring cyber talent can be properly educated, trained and placed into work.

Ensuring the UK’s workforce has the skills needed to make appropriate cyber decisions will also be a priority for the strategy, ensuring the digital economy in the UK is secure and the UK continues to be a “global leader” in the cyber security sector.

Bridging the cyber security skills gap

Talal Rajab, Head of Cyber and National Security at techUK said: “TechUK welcomes this strategy as an important step towards bridging the cyber security skills gap in the UK.

“Skills are vital to the development of the UK cyber security sector and attracting skilled talent is a constant challenge for industry, making this wide-ranging strategy most useful as a starting point for renewed efforts from both government and industry.”

In an effort to help develop the strategy, as well as the new Cyber Security Skills Council, there will be a 10-week call for suggestions, followed by a number of engagement events in early 2019 with the aim to eventually develop a programme of work that can be sustainable by 2021.

Rajab said initiatives such as CyberFirst and the new council will only be properly developed to suit the UK’s skills needs through collaboration between government, industry and education providers – a common opinion when it comes to the development of digital and technical skills.

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