The Tech Partnership

Yes, studying computer science or related degrees at university is one route to becoming a cyber security expert, but increasingly, people are realising the vocational routes into cyber careers, including apprenticeships, are equally valid and lead to equally good careers.

Mark Heholt, The Tech Partnership

The WannaCry attack reaffirms an urgent need for cyber skills

By Mark Heholt, Head of Apprenticeships, the Tech Partnership

15.05.2017

The WannaCry attack reaffirms an urgent need for cyber skills

By Mark Heholt, Head of Apprenticeships, the Tech Partnership

15.05.2017

Employers of the Tech Partnership are urging organisations across the country to invest in their cyber security skills base. This of course follows a weekend of high-profile cyberattacks on the NHS and computer systems around the world from a still unidentified gang of online criminals.

Hundreds of thousands of companies and organisations, including NHS Trusts, are still struggling to bring systems back online. There are fears that the ransomware, a form of malware named WannaCry, will continue to affect companies’ computer systems as employees return to work and log on today.

A lot of newspaper column inches over the weekend focused on the need for the government to invest in updating antiquated IT systems, particularly in the public sector, but it is just as important to make sure the UK is investing in training the cyber experts it needs to build cyber secure systems in the first place and to respond quickly and effectively to security breaches when they happen. Right now, there is an acute shortage of these cyber experts – the Tech Partnership’s skills survey shows a 27% shortfall.

And the skills to be a cyber expert can be found in unlikely places. The papers have been enjoying the story about the young cyber security expert from Cornwall, known only by their Twitter handle as @malwaretechblog, who ‘stumbled’ upon a key line of code on Friday that prevents unaffected users from infection.

Interestingly, The Guardian reported this morning that the youngster hadn’t gone to university and instead learned his trade on the job. It is a timely reminder that, yes, studying computer science or related degrees at university is one route to becoming a cyber security expert, but increasingly, people are realising the vocational routes into cyber careers, including apprenticeships, are equally valid and lead to equally good careers.

That is why the Tech Partnership has brought together employers from across the economy to design the specifications for these apprenticeships to make sure those completing them have the practical skills that employers need. The results are showing already – in past couple of years, over 500 people have embarked on a cyber career via an apprenticeship and the expectation is that this is likely to quadruple in the coming years, including new apprenticeship programmes in development at degree and even Master’s levels.

With cyber-crime clearly on the rise, ensuring the UK has the cyber security workforce it needs is now more vital than ever to keep business and citizens safe. That's why the Tech Partnership is also committed to inspiring young people about cyber security and developing their skills through its TechFuture and Tech Industry Gold programmes. See how we’re helping get new talent into the sector.

Discover more about the Tech Partnership's work on cyber

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