Six secondary schools, specialists in the cybersecurity sector and various employers from across Scotland are working with teachers to provide lessons in cyber skills to children, with approximately 120 pupils learning all about penetration testing – more commonly known as ethical hacking or pen testing.
The classes will involve going through the process of ethically hacking a fictional airline in a virtual environment. The lesson, which has been fully developed with and approved by teachers, is mapped to schools’ cybersecurity curriculum.
The pupils will also hear directly from experienced industry experts about what it is really like to work in cybersecurity in the hope that it will encourage them to consider it in the future.
Claire Gillespie, digital technology sector manager for Skills Development Scotland (SDS), said: “I’m really excited about this approach which will give learners hands-on experience with real security tools and techniques. But the really exciting part is having the industry experts involved.
“Sharing their skills, knowledge and real work experiences will be a real inspiration for the next generation of cybersecurity specialists. This is also a great way for cyber experts to benefit from classroom experiences, and who knows, maybe we will encourage some of them to re-train as teachers.”
The programme launches in time for Cyber Scotland Week 2020, and participating schools and employers include:
- Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow with CGI
- Johnstone High School with Morgan Stanley
- All Saints in Glasgow with Clydesdale Bank
- Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow with Viral Edge and Morgan Stanley
- James Young High School in Livingston with JP Morgan
- Portlethen Academy in Aberdeenshire with SBRC.
Gillespie added: “If this pilot is successful, we not only plan to roll this out to more schools, but we also plan to take it beyond just cybersecurity and bring other industry experts in to talk about other broader tech related subjects.”
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CGI were the first to deliver the new lesson at Bellahouston Academy. Lindsay McGranaghan, business unit leader for CGI in Scotland, said: “CGI is committed to ensuring that the next generation of cybersecurity specialists have the relevant knowledge and understanding to take advantage of the highly skilled cybersecurity jobs being created within Scotland.
“Working in partnership with SDS will allow CGI’s industry experts to share their expertise and work experiences with Scotland’s future cybersecurity specialists. At the heart of this will be promoting an ethical and safe environment for them to learn the future skills that are in increasing demand within the cybersecurity industry.”
Colin Mackenzie of Viral Edge said: “I got involved to help promote and spread cybersecurity awareness. There is still a lot of misinformation on the topic and young people in particular do not have access to correct, meaningful information about the subject. My hope is this pilot demystifies the subject, helps to shine a light on the opportunities available and also inspire young people to pursue careers in the industry.”