From education to employment


CYBER EXPERTS have turned teenagers’ passion for tech into a nationally recognised certification. The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) CyberFirst courses for digital native 14-17-year-olds, have been credit-rated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) rating gives learners and employers confidence in the quality and level of content offered in CyberFirst courses. Rating is structured around a robust and rigorous framework, in partnership with leading tech learning provider QA and the SmallPeice Trust.

CyberFirst Defenders, Futures and Advanced courses give students the opportunity to explore the latest tools and technology, further developing their skills to lead to a dynamic and rewarding future.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, said:

“Since 2017, well over 3,000 students have attended our free CyberFirst courses and securing SQA accreditation emphasises the high standards of the programme.

“CyberFirst courses offer students an ideal entry point to a fantastic career in cyber security.

“This summer, there are a variety of courses available for all levels and ages and I’d encourage young people interested in computing and technology to take a look at what’s on offer on the NCSC website.”

The NCSC and QA have successfully designed and delivered a number of engaging and inspiring project-based education programmes for 11-18 year old pupils nationwide. CyberFirst ‘demystifies’ technology and cyber security, encouraging young people into STEM subjects and provides an insight into cyber-related careers and opportunities.

Lisa Harrington, Managing Director of QA Learning, said:

“The CyberFirst courses have been designed as fun and hands-on, but above all rigorous. So, the approval of these awards by the SQA Committee and credit rating without any recommendations or conditions was a ringing endorsement for the initiative as meaningful training.

“The clarification that SCQF Credit Rating gives means that students and employers will easily be able to understand the degree of skills acquired on a CyberFirst course.”

The CyberFirst programme has been allocated a credit rating reflecting the difficulty of content and time required to undertake the courses. CyberFirst Futures, for 15-16-year-olds is recognised for being taught to the same level as a GCSE. 

CyberFirst is a programme of opportunities and support helping young people explore their passion for computers and technology; introducing them to the fascinating and critical world of cyber security. It was created as part of the five-year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) announced in 2016.

With a range of courses for different ages, the CyberFirst Advanced, Defenders and Futures courses are 5 day residential and non-residential courses. The free courses cater for a mix of abilities and are interactive, hands-on and self-guided. As the participants’ skills develop students will explore advanced cyber security threats to devices, apps and software and investigate ways of protecting them.

Led and inspired by the National Cyber Security Centre (a part of GCHQ), CyberFirst is a programme of opportunities and support helping young people explore their passion for computers and technology and introducing them to the fascinating and critical world of cyber security

GCHQ is the parent body for the NCSC, meaning that it can draw on the organisation’s world-class skills and sensitive capabilities

The NCSC provides a single, central body for cyber security at a national level and is the UK’s technical authority on cyber. It manages national cyber security incidents, carries out real-time threat analysis and provides tailored sectoral advice.

The UK Government is fully committed to defending against cyber threats and address the cyber skills gap to develop and grow talent. The NCSC was created as part of the five year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) announced in 2016, supported by £1.9billion of transformational investment.

QA is one of the UK’s leading IT and business skills providers, specialising in training, consultancy, apprenticeships and post graduate degrees on a range of technical and leadership subjects.  With 22 UK-wide training centres – from state-of-the-art Apprenticeships and Consulting Academies, to University campuses and flexible online learning provision, QA offers an unparalleled portfolio of learning solutions to both private and public sector organisations.

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