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Gloucestershire Business News

Record number of teenagers sign up to develop cyber skills

A record number of teenagers seized the opportunity to develop cyber security skills this summer, by joining courses led by Cheltenham-based NCSC.

New figures from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, revealed more than 1,850 teenagers took part in its popular CyberFirst summer courses, surpassing the record participation set last year, when courses moved online for the first time.

This year, pupils aged 14 to 17 had the choice of learning about cyber security virtually or in person at courses held in Warwickshire, where they covered topics including digital forensics, ethical hacking and cryptography.

CyberFirst aims to encourage young people to pursue their interest in cyber security and improve the diversity in the industry, as just 16 per cent of the UK's cyber sector workforce are women and 17 per cent are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Of this year's intake, 43 per cent were girls, while pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds secured nearly half (47 per cent) of the places.

Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber growth, said: "It's fantastic to see so many young people engaging with cyber security and developing the skills that will help them thrive in the industry.

"It's vital the next generation of cyber experts is diverse as well as skilled, and through CyberFirst, we are committed to making the industry a more accessible and inclusive place for all."

Matt Warman, digital infrastructure minister, said: "The need for cutting-edge cyber security has never been greater and this resilient sector is continuing to grow and solidify its status as a jewel in the UK's tech crown.

"It's fantastic to see so many young people from diverse backgrounds develop cyber skills over the summer, as it is vital that the industry has a strong pipeline of talent for years to come."

Every year, the summer courses are offered at three levels - CyberFirst Defenders (for 14-15-years-olds), CyberFirst Futures (15-16) and CyberFirst Advanced (16-17).

A total of 1,866 pupils secured places on the courses in 2021. The number of applications this year increased from 3,909 in 2020 to 4,384.

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