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Cyber training firm launches £20k data protection scholarship

Training specialist Freevacy has launched a £20,000 scholarship fund to train data privacy and protection professionals

Freevacy, a specialist provider of data privacy and protection education and training, has set up a £20,000 scholarship fund to provide training for approximately 20 up-and-coming cyber security professionals.

The Joyce Allen Privacy Champion BCS Scholarship scheme will cover the £1,095 cost of the Foundation Certificate in Data Protection from BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. This is a recognised industry qualification and an important stepping-stone to a full-time career in the field.

Launched to mark Data Protection Day – an annual security supplier public relations exercise – the fund is designed to tempt new entrants towards a career in the badly understaffed data privacy field; a recent Isaca report found that 94% of organisations are experiencing a privacy skills gap, with a lack of, or insufficient training, found to be behind just under 50% of privacy incidents.

Freevacy said that without more skilled professionals, organisations risk being unable to properly protect the personal data they hold, putting customer relationships and their own reputations on the line.

The firm’s philosophy is predicated on embedding so-called privacy champions in businesses to alleviate pressure on core teams. Its approach supposedly enables organisations to better cross-train existing employees in data protection, letting them take more responsibility without having to change their roles significantly.

A new generation of DPOs will start out as privacy champions,” said Freevacy founder Joyce Allen. “Right now, we have an opportunity to reallocate privacy responsibilities into the business functions working with data.

“There are clear areas of overlap where training staff in data protection can lead to productivity gains, efficiencies and enhanced compliance,” she added. “Privacy champions play a pivotal role in developing organisational culture and ensuring initiatives such as privacy by design, data minimisation and DPIAs are deep-rooted.”

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Allen said there were two distinct advantages to operating a more decentralised privacy management structure, namely the additional capacity unlocked by dedicated privacy champions, and the creation of a more multi-skilled team, some of whom could in future become candidates for roles with a tighter focus on privacy.

P Arathoon, a trainee who has already moved through BCS training with assistance from Freevacy, said: “I decided to enrol on the Foundation in Data Protection certificate due to finding myself at a career crossroads.

“As a complete novice to GDPR, I was very apprehensive about joining the course,” she said. “My concerns were soon diminished, as the online training was relaxed and the trainer explained the content in plain English ... and invited an open forum to ask questions that needed further discussion.

“I never realised data protection could be so interesting, and so integral to the service and administrative areas in the industry where I work. The additional reading resources and advice were invaluable when it came to the exam of which I was delighted to pass.”

Freevacy is inviting potential applicants to contact it via email at [email protected], specifying their details, why privacy is essential to its role, and references from department heads or data protection leads sponsoring the application.

Employers and applicants will also have to commit not to transfer a scholarship recipient into a dedicated compliance role for at least 12 months after they complete the scheme, to give them time to properly benefit from it. It will aware its first grants later in 2023.

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