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\u2019s development programme, designed to support individuals at all stages of their careers, from apprenticeships to executive positions.\n\nThe 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.\n\nFunding will be used to attract diverse cybersecurity talent pool\n\nA 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\u2019s 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.\n\nCIISec 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.\n\n\u201cWe\u2019re 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,\u201d commented Amanda Finch, CEO of CIISec. \u201cThe continued support from DSIT and the dedication of our partners and members will be instrumental in achieving these goals.\u201d\n\nHalf of UK businesses suffering from a basic cybersecurity skills gap\n\nThe UK\u2019s 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\u2019s workforce, with 14% of those in senior cybersecurity roles from ethnic minority backgrounds.