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UK Cyber Security Council to take charge of skills strategy

New government-backed body will be set up to boost careers opportunities and professional standards in the cyber security sector

The government is to set up a new, independent body to boost career opportunities and professional standards for the UK’s cyber security sector and address the chronic shortage of skilled security talent.

Funded through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the UK Cyber Security Council will be charged with setting standards and defining career and learning paths for security, assist in attracting more talent and improving diversity metrics in the security workforce, and operate as a “one-stop shop” for people looking to establish or further a security career. It will work closely alongside the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The government would like the Council to become a single governing voice for the security industry, somewhat akin to professional bodies covering areas such as engineering, law or medicine. It will work with training providers to accredit courses and qualifications, and hopefully give employers more confidence to recruit effectively.

“The fact we are launching an independent professional body for cyber security shows just how vital this area has become – it makes a huge contribution to our thriving digital economy by safeguarding our critical national infrastructure, commerce and other online spaces,” said digital minister Matt Warman.

“The UK Cyber Security Council will ensure anyone interested in an exciting career tackling online threats has access to world-class training and guidance. It will also champion diversity and inclusion, driving up standards while helping the nation to build back better and safer.”

Chris Ensor, the NCSC’s deputy director for cyber growth, added: “Cyber security is a growing industry in the UK and it is vital for high standards of practice and technical expertise to be at the heart of the profession as it develops.

“We look forward to working with the Council to help ensure that future generations of cyber security professionals have the skills and support they need to thrive and make the UK the safest place to live and work online.”

The establishment of the new body follows feedback from a public consultation in 2018, which explored some of the issues facing the security profession – and uncovered “overwhelming” support for some kind of professional body.

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The Cyber Security Alliance – a consortium of existing security and tech industry bodies including BCS, CompTIA, Crest, the IET, ISC² and TechUK – has been hard at work laying the groundwork for the formal launch of the Council, which will take place on 31 March 2021.

It has already appointed its inaugural board of trustees to guide the Council as it beds in – chaired by Claudia Natanson, formerly CSO at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), managing director of BT Secure Business Services, and CISO at beverage firm Diageo.

“Having spent many years in cyber security, I’m very aware of the excellent work done by many varied organisations – but I’m also conscious that the time for an umbrella organisation has come in order to drive the profession forward in a unified way,” said Natanson.

“It is a privilege and a challenge to be part of the leadership of the Council, knowing that the future security and prosperity of the UK depends in part on the Council succeeding in its mission to develop the profession.”

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