The UK government has launched a £20m programme with the aim of giving almost 6,000 teenagers an opportunity to learn cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) Cyber Schools Programme will include extra-curricular clubs, activities and a new online game, it said today.
The aim is to encourage school children to develop the skills needed to work in cyber security, and to consider it as a career option. The government wants at least 5,700 teenagers to be trained by 2021.
Students will be selected for the programme through a pre-entry assessment, and the scheme will provide them with a pathway into the cyber security industry via direct contact with industry experts.
SANS, BT, FutureLearn and Cyber Security Challenge UK have been confirmed as partners in the delivery of the programme, but the government is encouraging other cyber security companies and industry volunteers to also register their interest.
Students aged between 14 and 18 can apply for the scheme, and they will receive "hundreds of hours of extra-curricular content designed to fill a four-year programme", claims the DCMS.
The scheme will be delivered in modules and students can join at any time as long as they meet the right criteria. For example, older students could power through the work and challenges at a faster pace and so could begin later than younger students.
"Our Cyber Schools Programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies," said digital minister Matt Hancock.
"I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cyber security career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme," he added.
Prospective students, teachers, industry members and volunteers can register their interest on a dedicated website in advance of the scheme launching in autumn.
DCMS has also confirmed £500,000 of funding to continue a pilot to help adults who want to retrain for a job in cyber security by taking a GCHQ-accredited master's degree.
The money will be distributed between participating universities. Interested applicants must first be accepted onto participating courses and then apply for the bursary through the university.
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