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DCMS funding fuels cyber diversity drive

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is investing in four new projects to drive the number of diverse candidates considered for cyber careers

The government has announced it will be funding four projects across England to encourage more diverse candidates into cyber security jobs.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will invest £500,000 across the projects to get more women, BAME and neurodiverse talent into cyber careers.

This funding is part of the government’s Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund (CSIIF) aimed at increasing both the number of people working in cyber, as well as the diversity of those in the cyber sector.

“Our cyber security industry is thriving but to support this growing success we need a skilled and diverse workforce to match,” said digital minister Margot James.

“These latest projects show that whatever your background, ethnicity or sex, there are opportunities to join the cyber security profession. We want to demonstrate you can have a dynamic and exciting career in a sector that sits at the heart of our economy and is a key part of our modern industrial strategy.”

Introduced in February 2018, CSIIF is part of the government’s Cyber Security Strategy to fund organisations such as charities or training providers committed to filling the cyber skills gap.

The four new projects, which will have access to part of the new £500,000 funding, are run by Crucial Academy and QA Learning Blue Screen IT, and the funding will help these organisations develop and scale these projects, which are all aimed at training people from diverse backgrounds in cyber security.

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The Crucial Academy Diversity in Cyber Security project is a Brighton-based initiative aiming to retrain veterans in cyber security, and is focused on female, neurodiverse and BAME candidates.

Neil Williams, CEO of Crucial Group, said the funding will help support its initiative, and that, as a veteran, he understands the importance of projects such as Crucial.

The QA: Cyber Software Academy for Women runs across several cities in the UK, including London, Bristol and Manchester, training women for cyber security roles.

The Blue Screen IT: Hacked project will use the funding to scale a project that already exists, giving people, including those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, neurodiverse and special needs talent, the skills needed for a cyber career.

As well as train people in cyber, the project will also aim to create a “network of community Security Operations hubs”, according to Michael Dieroff, CEO of Bluescreen IT.

Dieroff said the hubs will “engage and service the local community and businesses with cost effective cyber security services. These hubs will increase the employment of IT professionals through cyber and digital apprenticeships, reducing the growing skills gap across all sectors”.

Online portal

The final project to receive part of the £500,000 DCMS funding is the Hacker House Ltd: Hands on Hacking, Training and Employer Portal, an online portal to give people access to training and potential employers.

Jennifer Arcuri, CEO of Hacker House, said: “Cyber skills play such a vital role in the development of the digital economy, and it’s fantastic to see the UK government make it such a priority.

“The team of Hacker House are thrilled to be included in the funding of this grant, as this allows us the opportunity to continue to develop content that trains and enables candidates to retain the practical skills needed for roles in information security.”

The government has been working over the last few years to improve the amount of diversity in the cyber security sector, and the technology sector in general, as well as fill the growing cyber skills gap.

Part of the government’s National Cyber Security Strategy is making sure the cyber sector is more diverse and inclusive.

The focus on diversity in the cyber security space is no new thing, with many experts claiming diversity cyber teams are important in developing better security strategies.

Towards the end of 2018, the government also announced plans to develop a Cyber Security Council to form a strategy for seeking out future cyber talent. 

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