News

Fresh drive to develop next generation of cyber security experts

Created:  03 Feb 2017
Updated:  03 Feb 2017

GCHQ NCSC

The fight to protect the UK from the growing threat of cyber attacks has been boosted by a successful student scheme that launched its expanded 2017 programme yesterday (2 February).

CyberFirst, a pivotal part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme, serves to find, finesse and fast-track tomorrow’s online security experts about to start university or in their first year.

Up to 250 recruits will now be able to receive £4,000 student bursaries, paid work placements and employment on graduation after more than 20 companies pledged their support to the government initiative.

Officially launched in May 2016, CyberFirst is a pivotal part of the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme, which includes the formation of the brand new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - a single, central body that manages incidents, threat analysis and sectoral advice.

NCSC CEO Ciaran Martin said:

"These bursaries are a brilliant opportunity for the brightest and best.

“A thousand cyber first graduates is a thousand steps on the way to building the world class cyber security workforce at a national level. These are skills we desperately need."

At the launch of CyberFirst 2017 yesterday, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Ben Gummer announced the intent to have upto 1,000 CyberFirst students in the system by 2020.

The Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

“This Government is determined to face up to the growing challenge of cyber threats and grow the talent we need for the future.

"That is why we are boosting our CyberFirst scheme by increasing the number of student places to 250 by the end of this year, and up to 1000 by 2020."

The popularity of the first CyberFirst bursary programme saw over 800 applicants competing for 93 places in 2016. This year, the number of bursary places on offer has risen to a record number of 250, and prospective candidates will be able to register their interest from 6 February.

Each successful applicant will receive an annual £4,000 bursary to study a relevant degree, 8-10 week placements within GCHQ, at a GCHQ Cyber Academy or with industry partners, or at GCHQ Cyber Summer Schools during university holidays and, depending on meeting requirements, the chance to work in national security on graduation.

Chris Ensor, Deputy Director for NCSC skills and growth said:

“This is the first time government and industry have come together to make a concerted attempt to inspire and support a whole generation of young people to take up a role in cyber security.

“Cyber security is a fascinating career choice which is fundamental to our modern digital society and we are delighted our industry colleagues are supporting CyberFirst.”

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

To encourage interest in cyber security, the NCSC is also running a competition where teams of 13-15 year old girls will pit their wits against one another to crack a series of online puzzles. The contest was announced in January and has already received over pre-registrations from 600 schools on behalf of almost 2,000 girls.

Under the Cyber First brand, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport plan to launch a National Schools Programme for 2017 onwards. This will see the development of a national extracurricular school programme to identify the most promising students with intensive training and mentoring.

Notes to editors

Companies supporting CyberFirst include:

  • Thales
  • Vodafone
  • Raytheon
  • Nexor
  • CGI
  • BAE Systems
  • APM Group
  • Information Risk Management
  • Cyber 1st
  • Reliance ACSN Ltd
  • L-3 TRL technology
  • Qinetiq
  • Leidos
  • BT
  • Airbus
  • Becrypt
  • Northrop Grumann
  • NCC Group
  • Lockheed Martin
  • CISCO
  • Roke
  • City of London Police
  • Candidates for GCHQ CyberFirst bursaries can register their interest from 6th Feb on the GCHQ careers website https://www.gchq-careers.co.uk/index.html
  • Pre registration for the CyberFirst Girls competition is available until 12th February and can be made via https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/events/cyberfirst-girls-competition
  • Industry support and investment has steadily grown. Over 20 companies have committed to offering their own CyberFirst Bursary scheme and work placements. We expect this number to grow.
  • A broad range of CyberFirst courses will be run throughout 2017. They include:
    1. CyberFirst Adventurers; A free one day course aimed at 13/14 year-olds PLUS their parents, teachers and guardians.
    2. CyberFirst Defenders; A free four-day residential and non-residential course aimed at 14/15 year-olds.
    3. CyberFirst Futures; A free five day residential and non residential course aimed at 15/16 year-olds.
    4. CyberFirst Advanced; A free five day residential and non-residential course aimed at 16/17 year-olds.

Further details of the courses will be available from https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/new-talent in the spring.

An invitation to tender for the National School Programme will be issued this month by DCMS and plans will be developed to offer a unique programme of cyber security training for children aged between 14-18. This will be offered in conjunction with some of the new CyberFirst initiative.

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