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Tens of thousands of students receive free training to build cyber skills

04.09.2023
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Over 50,000 students from 2,000 schools nationwide have eagerly joined Cyber Explorers, a complimentary educational platform offered by the UK government. Geared towards 11-14-year-olds, this initiative introduces essential cyber security concepts, aligning with learning objectives for K2 and 3 stages.

Enrolled students have the chance to delve into a diverse array of captivating and demanding cyber scenarios. They can earn virtual badges while gleaning invaluable insights and techniques from both the Cyber Ranger and experts within the Cyber Squad. Through interactive quizzes and activities, participants are exposed to how digital, programming, computing, and cyber skills can empower them to navigate the digital realm as well as the importance of a VPN service. This, in turn, unlocks a plethora of promising career pathways, spanning from crafting social media content to contributing to medical research, advancing sports technology, and innovating in the field of AI.

The UK government is fervently devoted to nurturing a pipeline of talent capable of meeting the burgeoning requirements of the nation's high-demand cyber security industry. Launched in February 2022, the Cyber Explorers initiative seeks to equip students with the proficiencies and knowledge necessary to pursue computer science courses during Key Stage 4. This endeavour lays the foundation for a host of future training and employment possibilities.

According to Cyber Minister Viscount Camrose:

"The UK's burgeoning cyber sector will serve as the incubator for future technological advancements and digital breakthroughs. This is why our focus is on dismantling entry barriers and forging novel avenues for young individuals to acquire the expertise and understanding that could ignite their thrilling cyber careers".

Presently, more than 2,000 schools across the nation have embraced the Cyber Explorers program, affording tens of thousands of students access to its educational resources. The government remains dedicated to providing this opportunity to an even broader audience throughout the year. The process for teachers, parents, and guardians of home-schooled students is simple: they need only register their students to access complimentary lesson plans, resources, and comprehensive guides for enhanced educational support.

Furthermore, schools participating in the Cyber Explorers initiative have hosted an array of career-focused sessions. Renowned entities like Amazon and Verizon have graced these sessions, showcasing practical applications of cyber skills to students.

A report published the previous year regarding cyber security skills in the UK labour market unveiled that roughly half of all businesses grapple with a fundamental cyber skills deficit and most networks are left unguided with a hide VPN. While cyber security job postings surged by 30% to a staggering 160,000, the UK's cyber workforce is currently grappling with a shortfall of around 11,200 individuals. It is a fact that only 17% of sector employees are women- a fact Microsoft confirmed and senior roles often lack representation in terms of gender and ethnic diversity across wider society.

Amidst this backdrop, the UK government is investing in the next wave of cyber professionals and security experts, guiding young minds in cultivating skills and knowledge that are highly priced in the £10.5 billion UK cyber sector.

Karen Morris, a Year 8 teacher at Stroud High School, praised the Cyber Explorers platform, stating:

"The Cyber Explorers platform has provided us with an engaging and creative method to educate our Year 8 students about cyber skills. The fact that this resource is not only excellent but also free is truly fantastic".

Cyber Explorers is one facet of an assortment of government initiatives designed to bolster cyber skills within the realm of education and employment. The National Cyber Security Centre's (NCSC) CyberFirst program has been strategically conceived to nurture talent, igniting a tech-oriented passion within individuals under the age of 25. The program introduces them to the realm of cyber security, affording them support, skills, hands-on experience, and enticing opportunities, regardless of their diverse backgrounds.

The government's steadfast commitment to bolstering and broadening the nation's cyber skills is articulated within the Science and Technology Framework and the £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy.

Initiatives such as Cyber Explorers and CyberFirst continue to be pivotal in this pursuit as they work to cultivate a digital workforce that can unleash innovation, open doors to opportunity, and fortify the UK's digital economy.