From education to employment

Expanding learning opportunities into the community

Up-skilling and re-skilling are real buzz words in the sector right now – with colleges at the forefront of delivering many courses and qualifications to people of all ages.

Key industries in need of such skills include digital and cyber. We are seeing exponential growth in these areas and employers within these sectors are struggling to secure the workforce they need to grow their businesses.

This recruitment challenge lies partly in the fact that these ‘new’ industries are not always known or understood in the same way as more traditional jobs are. For example, we all know what a chef, nurse or teacher does – but what about a Cyber Analyst, Threat Hunter or Security Operation Centre (SOC) Manager?

Children and young people are often experts on digital devices and platforms, but despite this knowledge, they are unlikely to be aware of the full scope of career opportunities within these huge industries.

The CyberHub Trust’s primary aim is to promote the education and training of cyber security and cloudskills to help develop a pipeline a well-qualified and experienced workforce. This is not only aimed at young people, but to those of all ages who are looking to change career direction and re-skill in a new area.

What’s clear is that tackling the skills gap requires much more than the odd 6th form careers day or the advertising of specific courses. We need to tap into local communities on a greater scale, providing real-life, hands-on opportunities for people to understand more about an industry. This then needs to be supported with clear and fully accessible pathways into high quality training and ultimately, employment.

We work with Further Education colleges and Institutes of Technology who provide fantastic courses and have excellent links with employers. But current and potential students need to be made aware of these opportunities and inspired to pursue a career in these expanding sectors. And this is exactly where we need to help.

The CyberHub Trust is setting up ‘Security Operations Centres’ in colleges around the country. These provide a real-life working environment for students to develop their skills and understanding of cybersecurity. Crucially, they also offer a pioneering, educational resource to local communities – including schools, youth groups, businesses and many other organisations.

A fantastic example of this is the event that took place at Hugh Baird College last week, in partnership with the North West Regional Organised Crime Units (NW ROCU) (link to press release). Students took part in a ‘table-top’ activity which involved having to identify various challenges to a business – including cyber and physical. This got them to think and understand more about cyber crime and the measures businesses need to take to protect themselves against these threats.

Simulated, hands-on exercises like this will inevitably help to inspire the next generation of cyber and digital experts. Partnerships with the police and other security organisations are also essential to ensure relevancy and to set the scenarios in a ‘real-world’ context.

Another recent example was the delivery of a new `Cyber Analyst’ training course via a partnership between the CyberHub Trust, Barking & Dagenham College and the BIT Group. This was offered for free to people currently employed in IT or tech, whose employers were happy for them to upskill in cybersecurity. Feedback from those who took part was extremely positive.

Many skills gaps would not exist if people had more access to a particular industry and a better understanding of the careers available. As our own network of CyberHubs grows, we are maximising opportunities with our college and IoT partners, as well as sponsors and advisers like AWS and the NCSC, to open up facilities to the wider community – ensuring we reach the future talent that the cyber industry so desperately needs.

By Michael Klonowski, CEO, The CyberHub Trust

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