The UK government has teamed up with the country’s Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) to offer hundreds of students the opportunity to launch their careers in cybersecurity.
Some 300 students from around the country will be given the opportunity to take CIISec’s new Cyber Extended Project Qualification (CyberEPQ), and with it gain a potentially valuable pathway into the industry.
CIISec announced the CyberEPQ back in February 2022. The entry-level cybersecurity qualification is designed for students aged 14 and up, is worth up to 28 UCAS points, and is the equivalent of half an A-level.
It covers a range of topics across the cybersecurity spectrum – taking in the history of computing, digital forensics, cybercrime, incident response and the human element of cybersecurity.
It’s underpinned by CIISec’s own skills framework, and students will also be able to access the institute’s development program, which helps to support individuals at all stages of their careers, from apprenticeships onwards.
CIISec CEO, Amanda Finch, argued that the qualification would help the UK build a more diverse cybersecurity sector.
“Cyber is changing. There are more roles, demanding more varied skills than ever before: from technical knowledge to problem-solving to people skills. At the same time, the threats we all face are constantly evolving,” she added.
“Against this backdrop, we need people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and outlooks, to address every challenge the industry faces. With these places, we are looking forward to welcoming new applicants on their first steps to what has always been an interesting, challenging and above all rewarding career.”
The government funding will come from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which will pay for 30 CyberEPQ places in 10 mayoral regions across England.
“This qualification opens the door to young people of every background to bring their experiences and knowledge to the industry,” argued CIISec’s CyberEPQ lead, Nicky Bodily.
“By giving students the opportunity to get involved with real cybersecurity tasks, we are also helping build their practical skills, all measured against an industry-recognised framework. Whatever their ambition, we can help young people on their journey to find the role that’s right for them.”
The current cybersecurity skills shortfall in the UK stands at 56,800, a 73% year-on-year increase, according to the ISC2.