Minister of state for universities and science David Willetts has exclusively told Computing that the government is working to create different entry routes to the cyber security profession.
In December last year, the government released documents detailing how much money it expected to be spent in the first two years of its Cyber Security Strategy by each department.
The report stated that £9m would be spent on education, skills and awareness through the Cabinet Office, and on the unveiling of the report, senior government officials disclosed some of their plans to address a cyber-security skills deficit in the UK, such as incorporating cyber security modules into ICT teaching at schools.
However, many experts have told Computing that the problem does not just lie with a lack of awareness, but a lack of clear pathways into the cyber security profession, and Willetts claims that this is something that the government is trying to tackle.
“Work is under way to both strengthen and raise awareness of the variety of potential entry routes to the cyber security profession,” he said.
“This is vital if we are to harness the interest shown by new young talent, and provide effective stepping-stones for those already in the workforce but keen to enter this field,” he added.
Willetts pointed to several initiatives that were already in place to tackle the issue, such as the Cyber Security Learning Pathways project led by the National Skills Academy for IT, which is a self-assessment tool to help people considering cyber security work identify particular gaps on their CV and in their repertoire of skills.
“There are several initiatives backed by the National Cyber Security Programme that are helping to highlight cyber security as an attractive career option, including the Cyber Security Challenge, the development of a cyber-security profile within the Graduate Prospects careers website, and a pilot employer-sponsored MSc bursary scheme,” Willetts said.
Last month, Labour MP Chi Onwurah told Computing that the amount spent on cyber security awareness and education is disproportionately small.
“There needs to be a greater profile of cyber security in a positive way and I don’t believe the balance of spend right now is right. In terms of priority it is given to national cyber security over the awareness more generally among the UK population,” she said.
Computing’s Securing Talent campaign aims to raise awareness of the growing need for people with cyber security skills in industry and government, and for clearer pathways into the cyber security profession.