From education to employment

Success for DCMS skills training and business initiatives as the UK goes from strength to strength as a global cyber power

More than 6,000 new jobs added to the UK’s 50,000-strong cyber workforce 

Britain’s tech sector continues to break records as new government data shows more than 1,800 cyber security firms generated a total of £10.1 billion in revenue in the most recent financial year, a 14 per cent increase from the previous financial year.

The DCMS Annual Cyber Sector Report, which tracks the growth and performance of the UK’s cyber security industry, reveals the sector contributed around £5.3 billion to the UK economy in 2021, rising by a third on the previous year from £4 billion – the largest increase since the report began in 2018. 

Employment across the industry rose by 13 per cent, with more than 6,000 new jobs created, opening up new opportunities for people up and down the UK to join the sector and share its wealth. This brings the total number of people working in cyber in the UK to 52,700. 

There were 1,838 active cyber security firms in the UK in 2021. More than half are based outside of London and the South East, with cyber security showing growth in the North East and East Midlands. The report highlights this move could be a result of remote working increasing regional opportunities. 

UK-registered cyber security firms attracted record levels of external investment, with more than £1 billion secured across 84 deals by companies including Bristol-based Immersive Labs, which raised £53.5 million, and London-headquartered Tessian which secured more than £52 million in funding. 

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: 

“Cyber security firms are major contributors to the UK’s incredible tech success story. 

“Hundreds of British firms from Edinburgh to Bristol are developing and selling cutting-edge cyber tools around the world that make it safer for people to live and work online.

“We are investing in skills training and business initiatives to help the UK go from strength to strength as a global cyber power and open up the sector to people from all walks of life.”

Over the last decade, the UK has established itself as a leader in areas including network security, threat monitoring and professional services which has contributed to the sector’s double digit growth last year. 

Almost 300 UK-headquartered cyber security firms have offices in international markets, with 56 per cent offering their products and services in the United States and 46 per cent exporting to the European Union. 

The UK attracted a number of foreign companies, with US-headquartered companies representing one in ten UK-based cyber companies, highlighting the importance of US-UK collaboration in this area to support the UK’s economic growth. 

The findings come as Digital Minister Julia Lopez addresses the CyberASAP demo day today. The event gives UK academics the opportunity to showcase innovative new cyber security products to potential buyers. 

Vicky Brock CEO and co-founder of Vistalworks said: 

“Vistalworks was originally founded in response to a Scottish government innovation challenge to find innovative technology solutions to online illicit trade. 

“As we’ve grown, working closely with our government agency and cyber security stakeholders has remained incredibly important. 

“The Cyber Runway Scale programme has enabled us to reach new public and private sector contacts, including contracts with banks and enforcement, and has helped us develop the skills and awareness we need to take our intelligence solutions to new markets and partners across the rest of the UK and beyond.”

Lorna Armitage, co-founder, CAPSLOCK said: 

“The support of Plexal and government-funded programmes like Cyber Runway has enabled CAPSLOCK to accelerate our growth from a young startup in 2020 to the ‘most innovative cyber security SME of 2021’, as named by DCMS.

“Our relationship with Plexal has given us a great platform to talk about our commitment to promoting equality and diversity in the cyber security industry. For example, we spoke to fellow Cyber Runway members about the challenges faced by female co-founders and women in cyber.”

The government’s National Cyber Strategy is supporting UK firms to grow and scale up through a number of schemes including the National Cyber Security Centre Startups and CyberFirst bursary schemes, the London Office for Rapid Cyber security Advancement, and the Cyber Runway programme which helps entrepreneurs and businesses access a range of services to turn their ideas into commercial successes.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched a number of skills initiatives including the Cyber Explorers youth programme and skills bootcamps. It is boosting careers in the cyber workforce by supporting new apprenticeship standards and helping to standardise the professional cyber security landscape with the new UK Cyber Security Council.

This latest analysis builds upon the baseline UK Cyber Security Sectoral Analysis which used data from 2020. For this year’s study, the methodology was refined to improve the identification of businesses offering cyber security products and services in the UK. The cyber security sector is fast-moving and always subject to changes in products, services and market approaches.

Department for Education boosts cyber training courses ten-fold in major security revamp

23rd Sept 2021: The Department for Education (DfE) overhauled its security investment in the most recent financial year (FY 20-21), by increasing security courses on offer to staff from four to 44. Additionally, course participants surged from just under 7,000 in FY 19-20, to over 30,000 this year, a 329 per cent increase.

These figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information act and analysed by a Parliament Street think tank. The data also revealed that total cyber training spend increased from £1,996 in FY 19-20, to £31,960 in FY 20-21, which is an increase of over 1,400 per cent.

A majority of the course attendees completed a series of basic cyber security e-learning sessions, including a simulated cyber attack course with remedial phishing training. These courses were attended by 23,419 total participants, however this figure does not reflect the total number of individual staff members, as it’s possible that multiple staff members participated in multiple sessions.

Many of the e-learning courses were free-of-charge to the Department for Education, as they were part of the Department’s overall arrangement with Civil Service Learning or was carried out using internal DfE tools and resources. The second most popular e-learning training course was ‘Reporting Phishing’, which educated staffers on how and when to report suspicious emails.

The Department for Education also spent over £30,000 on 17 specialised training courses and exams for some of its staffers – these included courses on Information Systems, Security Risk Management and Microsoft 365 Fundamentals. Many of these paid for training sessions led to official qualifications for staffers, such as the SABSA Chartered Security Architect Foundation Certificate, PRINCE 2 Agile Foundation & Practitioner Certificates in Agile Project Management, and Cisco Certified Network Associate.

For comparison, just two specialised training courses were undertaken by staffers in FY 19-20 including Certified Information Security Manager training course, and the CompTIA Security+ exam qualification.

Edward Blake, Area Vice President EMEA, for Absolute Software comments:

“The Department for Education’s boosted investiture into staff training likely reflects a positive attempt to combat surging cyber threat levels targeting the education sector in the wake of the pandemic and remote learning.

“Many public sector organisations are afflicted with a widening digital skills gap, and it’s encouraging to see significant investment into security training to try and turn a major weakness into a strength. This investment is particularly important as services become increasingly digitalised and thus cyber threat levels targeting staffers, students and alumni is likely to continue its skyward trajectory, even as the pandemic subsides.”

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