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CIISec secures government funding to expand CyberEPQ program

Oct 03, 20233 mins
CareersIT Training Security

The funding will support places for 400 students with a focus on attracting a diverse pool of UK cybersecurity talent.

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The Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) has secured funding from the UK Department of Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT) to expand its Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in cybersecurity. The CyberEPQ offers training in topics across the cybersecurity spectrum, from the history of computing and cryptography to digital forensics and the human factor in cybersecurity, to help prepare students for a career in cybersecurity. Students also gain access to CIISec's development programme, designed to support individuals at all stages of their careers, from apprenticeships to executive positions.

The funding will support places for 400 students for 2023/24, three times the number in 2022/23, CIISec said. It comes following a successful first year for the CyberEPQ, with 68% of the 132 students taking part securing grades in the A* to B category. A third of the students were female, CIISec said.

Funding will be used to attract diverse cybersecurity talent pool

A key focus of both CIISec and the UK government is to attract a more diverse pool of talent into the cybersecurity industry. The funding from DSIT, alongside assistance from CIISec's corporate partners, will be a crucial element in this, with CIISec increasing the number of state schools involved in the CyberEPQ by 56%, CIISec said.

CIISec has also recruited a dedicated school liaison coordinator to manage and support both teachers and students throughout the program, with plans underway to upgrade the curriculum to reflect advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and blockchain, it added.

"We're excited to embark on this next phase of the CyberEPQ program, which promises to play a pivotal role in attracting and nurturing diverse talent in the cybersecurity industry," commented Amanda Finch, CEO of CIISec. "The continued support from DSIT and the dedication of our partners and members will be instrumental in achieving these goals."

Half of UK businesses suffering from a basic cybersecurity skills gap

The UK's cybersecurity sector is growing at pace, and so is the demand for skills, which is why the government is investing in a new and diverse generation of cybersecurity experts, said cyber minister Viscount Camrose. Earlier this year, a DSIT report found that half of UK businesses are suffering from a basic cybersecurity skills gap, with a third battling more advanced skills shortages in relation to aspects of security such as forensic breach analysis, storing or transferring personal data, or detecting and removing malware. Just 17% of the cybersecurity workforce is female, with only 14% of senior roles held by women, according to the report. People from ethnic minority backgrounds make up 22% of the sector's workforce, with 14% of those in senior cybersecurity roles from ethnic minority backgrounds.

UK Editor

Michael Hill is the UK editor of CSO Online. He has spent the past five-plus years covering various aspects of the cybersecurity industry, with particular interest in the ever-evolving role of the human-related elements of information security. A keen storyteller with a passion for the publishing process, he enjoys working creatively to produce media that has the biggest possible impact on the audience.

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