09 Feb 2017

NCSC expands CyberFirst to boost skills

2017 will see the expansion of the government’s successful CyberFirst scheme, a pivotal part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme.

The programme, which includes the formation of the brand new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), is vital to the progression of cyber security in the UK.

The CyberFirst scheme is designed to create a positive image of the cyber security industry, encouraging students ranging from secondary school to university to look at cyber and technology as a career and the nation’s next generation of security experts.

Earlier this month the NCSC confirmed expansion of the scheme, allowing up to 250 recruits to receive £4,000 student bursaries, paid work placements and employment on graduation.

Commenting on the expansion, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Ben Gummer said the intent was to have up to 1,000 CyberFirst students in the system by 2020. He 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.”

More than 20 companies have pledged their support to the government initiative. With industry support and investment showing the value of the scheme. This number is expected to keep growing.

Companies vary in size and sector from SMEs, such as technology firm Becrypt, to large multinationals such as Airbus and BT.

Bernard Parsons, Co-founder and CEO of Becrypt, commented on their commitment: “It is vital for our national security and economic prosperity that we adequately invest inappropriate cyber skills. I believe the security industry has a duty to help cultivate our home-grown talent into the world-leading workforce of tomorrow, creating future industry leaders and innovators, and we are proud to do our part with the CyberFirst scheme.

“As well as nurturing young minds, the government and industry must also work together to help graduates translate their research and pioneering ideas into successful businesses that will continue our proud history of innovation.”

Gareth Williams, Vice President of Thales UK’s cyber business, said: “CyberFirst is a fantastic way to inspire talented individuals in education to think about cyber security as a potential career option.

“It’s an excellent example of the collaboration between Government and industry to address this increasingly critical subject which has become core to the prosperity and safety of the UK.”

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.”

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.

Candidates for GCHQ CyberFirst bursaries can register their interest from 6th Feb on the GCHQ careers website

Pre registration for the CyberFirst Girls competition is available until 12th February and can be made here. 

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