More young people in Wales, particularly girls, are being invited to take part in a new series of free, online cyber security courses this summer, giving them the opportunity to develop valuable digital skills and enrich their problem-solving abilities.
The free CyberFirst courses, created by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in partnership with skills provider QA and children’s education charity The Smallpeice Trust, will offer students aged 14-17 a dynamic introduction to the cyber security landscape.
To meet the unprecedented demand in Wales to attend the courses, additional places have now been added across the programme. This will give more teenagers the chance to discover what it takes to be a cyber agent, as they analyse common cyber attacks, dive into digital forensics and learn how to crack codes.
Spaces for boys on the programme are now limited, but there are still places for girls to sign up. The digital skills shortage and a lack of diversity in STEM remains a challenge for the region and the UK at large, with women making up just 15 per cent of the UK cyber security workforce. The CyberFirst programme aims to inspire more girls to fulfil their potential and aspire to a future career in cyber security.
The programme will take place in a ‘virtual classroom’ to allow young people to get involved during the coronavirus pandemic. Cyber experts will teach all aspects of defending and safeguarding digital devices and networks, equipping today’s teenagers with robust cyber skills to help them prepare for the future and find solutions to some of our biggest modern challenges.
Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for Skills and Growth, said:
“We are excited to launch our CyberFirst summer programme online and give more boys and girls in Wales the opportunity to learn and develop key technology skills in a fun and interactive environment. It is a great way for students to connect with their peers and learn together as lockdown continues.
“The cyber security industry plays a key role in protecting and promoting our nation, and nurturing the next generation of technology talent is critical for its continued success. This has become particularly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of QA – the provider for the CyberFirst programme, said:
“These initiatives from NCSC and DCMS are set to deliver a great summer of learning for young people across the UK. There is a shortage of digital skills in the UK and the CyberFirst programmes tackle this issue head on – and have the added benefit of keeping young minds active at this difficult time.
“The road to the UK’s economic recovery from this pandemic will be built on the skills we learn at this time. That’s why it was critical that initiatives like CyberFirst were pivoted to virtual delivery, so they could go ahead as planned. We are proud to partner with the NCSC to deliver these fully virtual training programmes.”
Dr Kevin P. Stenson, chief executive of The Smallpeice Trust, said:
“With many schools still closed and the summer exam series cancelled, it is fantastic to see how many students have signed up for the CyberFirst programme to develop their passion for technology and learn key skills at home.
“The cyber industry offers many diverse and rewarding career paths, but often students do not have access to experiences where they can develop their knowledge and skills. Our aim is to give young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to realise their potential and develop their tech talent.”
The CyberFirst courses will be available from June-August with three different course levels to choose from:
- CyberFirst Defenders, for 14-15-year-olds, introduces students to building and protecting small networks and personal devices.
- CyberFirst Futures, for 15-16-year-olds, allows students to explore advanced cyber security threats to devices, apps and software, then discover ways to prevent them.
- CyberFirst Advanced, for 16-17-year-olds, is designed for students already studying computer science, who will hone the skills and behaviours they need to enter the cyber security or computing workplace.
Further information and booking for the CyberFirst summer courses can be found here: https://smallpeicetrust.org.uk/cyberfirst