From education to employment

The CyberHub Solution – taking an innovative approach to addressing skills gaps

Today sees the launch of the first CyberHub ‘Security Operations Centre’ in the North West, opening at Hugh Baird College in Liverpool.

This unique project has several aims – the primary one being to promote the education and training of cyber security and to facilitate a pipeline of well-trained, qualified and experienced people into this exciting industry.

As the world has moved even further online, catalysed by the pandemic, the need for digital and cyber skills has increased drastically. From analysts to engineers, the sector is expanding rapidly and companies will only be able to continue this successful growth if they have enough skilled employees.

The Government’s Levelling Up White Paper puts skills firmly at the heart of post-Brexit and post-Covid recovery and the CyberHub Trust is a real-life, working example of this vision.

To set the issue in context: the UK Cyber Security workforce has grown by 163% in the past five years, with at least 350,000 unfulfilled jobs predicted this year*. Cybersecurity tops the list of IT skills most in demand and the cyber skills gap has risen to 25%, increasing every year.

Encouraging new talent into the industry is of course key to addressing these challenges. But to do this, employers and education providers need to take an innovative approach – and this is exactly what the CyberHub Trust, along with its partners, is doing.

Working with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Trust is being advised by the National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst programme. Each of these organisations recognise the huge challenges being faced by the Cybersecurity industry and the urgency to develop the next generation of cyber experts.

An important element of the initiative is to identify ‘at risk’, technically capable young people and give them the training they need to become productive members of society – ultimately encouraging them to help stop cybercrime as opposed to committing it.

How are we doing this?

Security Operations Centres (SOCs) are being set up at FE Colleges and Institutes of Technology (IoT) around the country, providing a real-life working environment for students to train in. The function of these high-specification facilities (funded by the colleges and AWS) is to monitor, detect, investigate and respond to real cyber threats, and therefore protecting assets such as IP, personal data and business systems.

The industry expertise within the SOC is outsourced to a specialist service provider, overseeing the cyber training, education and apprenticeships being offered. This ensures that students will receive first-hand, industry knowledge; equipping them with the skills they need to progress straight into employment.

Each SOC is led by a manager, with incident responders, analysts and threat hunters. As well as providing training for the students, they provide commercial cyber security and testing services to local businesses.

Importantly, each SOC will be embedded in its community, providing a range of activities and services to local people and schools including workshops and training, open days and apprenticeship opportunities.

The first operational CyberHub opened in 2020 at the Barking & Dagenham IoT in London, followed by Hugh Baird College, Liverpool (launched today) and the Birmingham Metropolitan College (planned for April 2022).Other CyberHubs are due to open in Oxford, Reading and Lincoln in late 2022 with additional colleges/IoTs under review in Plymouth, Manchester and Newport, Wales, to open the following year.

Qualifications / training on offer

Each SOC will deliver a comprehensive range of IT, Cloud and Cyber Security courses, from basic to expert. These will cover a range of IT, Cloud & Cyber Security courses for individuals starting their career – to professionals continuing to develop their skills. All training is practical and interactive, designed to prepare students for careers in the Cyber Security and Cloud industries.

Currently, the Trust is offering regular `Introduction to Cyber Security’ and SOC Experience Days. These are being led by Service Provider `the BIT Group’, which has also developed and delivered an `In-Work’ Cyber Security Training Programme (a pilot Programme funded by the Department for Education), designed for individuals who are currently in full-time employment and wishing to upskill.

It is an extremely exciting time to be entering the cybersecurity industry, with a vast range of career opportunities on offer.

What’s needed now?

1.       Skills gaps need to be taken seriously and addressed more creatively.

2.       Educators and industry need to work together to attract and engage talent of all ages and from all backgrounds.

3.       The right training and pathways must be developed to support people into new jobs and careers – where employment opportunities exist.

By Michael Klonowski, CEO, The CyberHub Trust

If you are interested in hearing more about the CyberHub Trust and would like to support its mission, contact Julia von Klonowski ([email protected]).* Global Information Security – Sept 2018)

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