The threat of cyber attacks from hostile nations and cyber criminals could be faced down by an army of school-leavers.
With the UK facing an estimated shortfall of 100,000 cyber security professionals, gifted young people picking up their A Level results are being urged to consider an apprenticeship in cyber security as an alternative to university.
Swindon-based BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has developed two different cyber security apprenticeship routes that will deliver professionals with technical expertise and specialist skills to the IT industry within two years.
For the apprentices, an exciting and fulfilling career with salary expectations typically 15 percent above the industry standard awaits.
A recent parliamentary report found “the gap between supply and demand of skills… is now verging on a crisis.”
The Parliamentary report on Cyber Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure said thousands more skilled programmers to protect government and industry from the threats posed by hostile nations including Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, and from criminal enterprises which “are increasingly attaining state-level capabilities.”
BT Security, which already employs almost 100 cyber security apprentices and is looking to recruit more, told ministers it only had around one-third of the candidates it needs for the jobs posted.
The UK’s National Security Strategy 2016-2021 recognises “the lack of young people entering the profession” and “the absence of established career and training pathways into the profession” as two of the main factors contributing to the skills gap.
Apprenticeships, says BCS, helps to address both those issues.
IT Apprentice of the Year Callum Hobart, who followed an apprenticeship path into cyber security, said: “An apprenticeship is a brilliant way of getting industry experience and a foot in the door of the IT industry.
“At work we’re considered on a par with graduates and other professionals. It’s an excellent way of getting a kick start into a career and actually coming in at a fairly senior level.”