In the past 12 months, we’ve seen a persistent worldwide threat from cyber-criminals. The FBI, TalkTalk and Ashley Madison headline a list of companies and government organisations that have been the victim of high profile hacks and data breaches in 2015.
With the average cost of an online security breach for big UK businesses now reported to be between £1.46 and £3.14 million, it’s unsurprising cyber security investment and skills development tops the UK Government’s agenda in 2016.
The ever growing threat from cyber criminals, both at home and abroad, has forced the government to act. At the Chancellor’s speech to GCHQ on cyber security in November 2015, George Osborne announced the provision to almost double investment to protect Britain. This amounts to a further £1.9 billion over the next five years taking the government’s total cyber spend to £3.2 billion.
This investment will aims to support the national cyber plan. The plan consists of five major steps to significantly strengthen the nations cyber defence. These include:
The final step being the most critical, developing the cyber security skills of the individuals required to keep Britain safe in cyberspace.
If Britain is to keep pace with the growing threat from cyber criminals, then it must reverse what is a growing workforce shortage. The 2015 Global Information Security Workforce Study from (ISC)2 projects a global shortfall of 1.5 million professionals by 2020. This shortfall is the difference between the projection of the workforce needed to fully address security staffing needs and the workforce supply constraints.
This does not mean organisation’s aren’t hiring, quite the contrary, this very same reports estimates an additional 195,000 information security professionals globally by the end of 2015. That’s a 6 per cent increase on 2014, it’s just not enough to keep pace with a rapidly expanding marketplace. According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the cyber security sector is expected to grow from £2.8 billion in 2013 to £3.4 billion in 2017.
So how does the Government’s investment plan to develop these cyber skills?
In short, Apprenticeships.
In 2015 we witnessed the rise of a new kind of apprenticeship. Known as Trailblazers, these new apprenticeships are designed by employers, for employers. The outcome being apprenticeship standards aligned to job roles that develop the skills individuals need to make meaningful contribution to their company.
Last week, the Government ended consultations for a set of new National Occupational Standards for Information Security. These standards will be used to create two new apprenticeships aligned to the following cyber security job roles:
By offering significant funding incentives, the Government is actively encouraging employers to take on apprentices, developing the cyber security skills the country so desperately needs. They’ve also gone a step further by opening these apprenticeships, offering funding for all age groups and to existing employees, not just new hires.
For every £1,000 employers spend, the government will contribute a further £2,000 – so employers only pay a third of the training fees. Once the employee is signed-up to the apprentice programme, employers will receive cash incentives from the government throughout the programme, which can reach £10,800.
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