Thousands of teenagers across the UK are set to be given intensive training at cybersecurity clubs in a bid to minimize the skills shortage predicted for the near future.
The Cyber Schools Programme aims to offer support and encouragement to youngsters aged between 14 and 18 who demonstrate an early talent for the skills needed to help safeguard businesses against online threats in an increasingly digital economy.
The programme, which will be led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), will benefit from up to £20 million of funding, with attendees to be guided by numerous expert instructors.
The aim is for 14-year-olds to get involved in the scheme, commit to four hours a week and subsequently stay on the programme for four years, during which time they will complete various modules.
Older students would be able to join later in the course, providing they meet the right criteria.
The overall goal of the scheme is to train at least 5,700 teenagers by 2021.
“This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies,” said Matt Hancock, the minister of state responsible for digital and culture.
“We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extracurricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent.”
The pilot for the scheme, which forms part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme, is set to begin in September 2017. Its success will be reviewed following the first year.
The performance of the scheme is likely to be of interest to various other digital economies around the world, particularly the US, where the cybersecurity skills gap is also proving to be a problem.
Figures from CyberSeek recently found that there are 128,000 cybersecurity openings every day, but there are only 88,000 positions filled, creating a shortfall of around 40,000.