Welsh college actively aims to bridge the cyber security skills gap in UK businesses.
50% of all UK businesses have basic cyber security skills gap with an estimated shortfall of 11,200 people to meet the demand of the growing cyber workforce. These are just some of the key findings from the annual Cyber security skills in the UK labour market report highlighting the demand of the cyber workforce in the UK.
To address the shortfall, educational institutions like The College, Merthyr Tydfil are taking proactive steps to equip school students with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the field of cybersecurity.
The College Merthyr Tydfil has recently become the recipient of a GoldCyberFirst award. The prestigious award, granted by GCHQ’s (Government Communications Headquarters) National Cyber Security Centre, recognises the colleges commitment to providing its students with access to top cyber education courses.
In partnership with Cyber College Cymru, Merthyr College’s selection of A-Level and Level 3 vocational courses in cyber-related studies such as IT, Computing and Computer Science are shaped by industry professionals including Fujitsu and Admiral. These industries are looking for future young talent to supercharge their in-house cyber security.
By introducing modules on cybersecurity into schools, students can develop a foundational understanding of the field, gain insights into potential career paths, and develop vital skills from an early age.
Ben Fowler is a student at The College who is studying a BTEC Level 3 IT Enhanced course. Through the programme, Ben has had access to a structured programme of skills workshops, challenges and briefings delivered by industry professionals to help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to progress into a career in Cyber Security.
Speaking about his experience, Ben stated “the course is providing a fantastic opportunity for me to learn all about Cyber Security, gain an understanding of the industry and help prepare me for a career in this important and growing sector area.”
Lisa Thomas, Principal at The College Merthyr Tydfil, commented “Cyber is the digital sector’s most important enabling technology and we are committed to working with our partner schools and universities to ensure that we have appropriate pathways and progression routes to provide learners with the skills and experience to be able to progress into a career in this exciting and fast paced industry.”
The College and Cyber College Cymru partner with University of South Wales. USW has been named Cyber University of the Year for four years running and offers an extensive range of cyber-related courses, plus a National Cyber Security Academy.
Through the partnership, students who wish to go onto study a cyber-related degree will be supported by the college and USW in a smooth transition to higher education. The university also helps to push students at the college out of their comfort zone by hosting challenge days in competition with colleges across the country.
Most recently, the university ran the Admiral Challenge Day, which gave students interested in cyber security a chance to put their skills to the test.
Industry partners including Admiral, Thales, Dŵr Cymru, Fujitsu, Bridewell, and Performant attended the event at USW’s Newport Campus which gave students from The College Merthyr Tydfil, Coleg Gwent, Coleg y Cymoedd and Bridgend College a look at the opportunities that are available in the cyber security sector.
Mike Halliday, of Cyber College Cymru, said: “Cyber College Cymru is a world-class programme that is helping young people aged 16 to 18 to develop the cyber security skills that industry needs.
“Considered as the leading programme for students of this age in the UK, Cyber College Cymru now supports more than 140 students across four colleges, with students supported by partners in developing and accelerating their cyber security skills in order for them to be ready for the world of work and to expand the nation’s cyber security skills.”