A programme aimed at training 500 students a year in cyber security skills to address the national and global shortage has been launched by University Technical Colleges (UTCs) in partnership with Fujitsu.

There could be up to 1.8 million information security-related roles unfilled worldwide by 2022, according to the latest Global information security workforce study from (ISC)2, while in Europe, a shortfall of about 350,000 is projected, with the UK’s share of unfilled cyber security jobs expected to be around 100,000.

UTCs provide technical education for students in their final years of school and the newly established UTC Cyber Group is aimed at preparing students aged 14-19 for the cyber security jobs of tomorrow in partnership with Fujitsu and 23 other private sector security organisations.

The training is designed to equip students with the right cyber skills to be able to hit the ground running when they start employment and to better prepare those moving into higher education.

The UTC Cyber Group will work with national and local employers to ensure teachers are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge about the latest threats, solutions and available job roles.

“In a world of connected devices, and increasingly AI [artificial intelligence] and machine learning, the security landscape is seeing exponential growth, with attack techniques and sectors changing at an alarming rate,” said Rob Norris, vice-president of enterprise and cyber security at Fujitsu.

“In the light of recent attacks, it is especially important that we do more to help the next generation of students better understand the positive impact that cyber security knowledge can have on their lives and future careers.”

As the UK makes rapid progress towards becoming a “digital first” nation, Norris said there needs to be investment at the very beginning of the digital journey and developing the right skills to support the future digital economy.

“All organisations – private and public – are pivotal in closing the cyber security skills gap, ensuring our children are fully equipped for facing future inevitabilities,” he said.

“Fujitsu will look to empower UTC students and teachers to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding of the role that cyber security plays in today’s business and society, preparing them to start their career in a digital world.”

Partner organisations will have the opportunity to sponsor their local UTC and get to know the students personally, potentially offering them a job at the end of the tenure or offering further sponsorship to allow students to go on to higher education.

Mike Halliday, business relations manager for UTC Reading, UTC Swindon and UTC Heathrow, said that with cyber threats becoming more prolific and hackers increasingly creative and savvy in their approach to attacks and breaches, the people and skills available to protect organisations and society must respond.

“While UTCs are attracting more and more ‘academic’ students, our real strength is in offering a learning journey that allows students to experience a practical education that prepares them for the world of work,” he said.

“Historically, students may not have considered entering a cyber security profession, often meaning they missed out on a career that they could be good at, and one in which they’d find purpose and fulfilment.”

Halliday said the UTC Cyber Group aims to connect industry to an untapped source of thinking in order to meet the current cyber security challenges. “There will be a particular focus on supporting students who could provide real value to an organisation due to their natural technical skill and ability,” he said.

The UTC Cyber Group plans to meet every quarter to agree the course content that will be delivered to cyber security students. It will provide a minimum of five days of teaching and training to UTCs a year over the next three years to ensure students are well versed on the cyber threat landscape and the tools and techniques being used.

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