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A mix of recent graduates, professionals, military leavers and cyber enthusiasts make up the UK’s top cyber security talent, according to the Sans Institute.
They were selected from 24,000 applicants, based on a skills and aptitude assessment and a series of interviews, to undertake eight weeks of intensive cyber training in the first-ever intake at the Sans UK Cyber Academy.
The first group of trainees includes seven recent graduates, 21 people working in related technical industries who are looking to break into cyber security, four people from outside the tech industry, and two finalists from the Cyber Security Challenge UK.
Sans Institute is making the profiles of the 32 Cyber Academy students available on request to potential employers.
According to one successful candidate, Alex Holland, who is currently studying law at King’s College London, information security involves many different disciplines.
“Understanding the legal and policy as well as the technical aspects of the field is vital,” he said.
The cyber academy training will cover both legal compliance and forensic computing, said Holland, which will enable him to combine a hobby in computing with interests in information security and law.
“If you are new to the cyber security industry, it is difficult to know how to reach employers, so this initiative is a fantastic opportunity and a great way to address the cyber skills gap,” he added. “Not only does it provide a new route into the industry, it also matches employees with the employment opportunities they are best suited to.”
Matthew Tellier, a systems operations manager, had been looking to break into the cyber security industry for some time and had recently been accepted to study an MSc in information security.
“The Sans Cyber Academy really appeals because it compresses everything into a short course and provides the practical depth that academic courses can’t,” he said.
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The difficulty with breaking into the cyber security industry, said Tellier, is that most companies recruiting for these roles want someone with practical experience, but there are very few practical training opportunities available.
Mark Robinson, a former senior server administrator, has reached two Cyber Security Challenge UK finals and has been thinking about moving into the cyber security industry for a few years.
“I've been interested in security since I started using computers at college, but it’s always been a hobby,” he said. “Sans is the leader in IT security training, so when they put this boot camp together, I could see it was packed with the courses relevant to the areas I'm trying to break into. I'm looking forward to meeting like-minded people and learning from them as well as the latest cyber security techniques from the Sans instructors.”
Employers will have an opportunity to meet and interview the students part-way through their course in October at the Sans Recruitment Fair. Employers will be given early access to anonymised profiles of each candidate based on their skills and aptitude assessment, interviews and CV, so they can review suitability for specific roles.
Steve Jones, UK managing director of Sans, said the trainees come from all walks of life, but represent the top cyber security talent in the UK.
“They have already proved they have the potential to become the top cyber security professionals of the future, but after the Cyber Academy training, they will be ready to meet any cyber security challenge an organisation has to offer,” he said.
The eight-week training course provides bespoke training matched to current industry and government skills requirements. The course includes three internationally recognised Sans courses and three Global Information Assurance Certifications. The first Sans Cyber Academy is set to begin on 1 September 2015 in Cardiff.