An alliance of leading IT bodies wants to address the lack of cyber-security skills that makes UK’s commerce and infrastructure vulnerable to hackers.
The sponsorship scheme, announced by the IET and its partners, follows a survey evaluating the preparedness of UK’s small and medium enterprises (SME) to ward off cyber attacks. It will provide grants and bursaries to those interested in undertaking Master-level studies in disciplines related to cyber security either to bring these skills to their current jobs or to develop careers dedicated to cyber security.
“We surveyed 250 SMEs working in engineering and technology sectors and the results showed that a significant lack of skilled workers was hampering the UK's fight against cyber-crime,” said IET’s cyber security expert Hugh Boyes.
The scheme, offering a bursary of £12,000, of which £10,000 goes directly to the student, can be used to cover existing MSc courses at four British universities - De Montfort University, Lancaster University, Plymouth University and University of Warwick. If successful, the project might be further extended in the future.
“Cyber security threats affect both major UK employers and their supply chains. In developing this scheme we are encouraging major employers to use it to develop the skills both amongst their own staff and those employed in their supply chain,” Boyes said. “This will increase the ability of industry and commerce to address these threats.”
The scheme will also promote sharing of the latest knowledge, information and research results in cyber security among all interested parties.
In the 2011 UK Cyber Security Strategy, the UK’s government acknowledged that the shortage of skills key to enhancing the country’s cyber security was a real problem and promised to take action to reverse the situation.
To add the government’s efforts, the IET launched the Cyber Security Skills Alliance, in cooperation with The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), The Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP), e-skills UK and the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC).