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Kilmarnock HALO Project to Establish a Two-Hundred-Strong ‘Digital Army’

David Paul



The team will consist of young Scots between the ages of 16-24, with hopes of training them for future jobs in cybersecurity.

An Ayrshire-based programme has been set up to build a digital army in Scotland to provide training in digital skills for young scots and aid Scottish businesses.

Backed by £1.5 million funding from the UK Government, the project will be established at The HALO Kilmarnock, and is set to open in May 2021.

The #RockStars programme will train 200 16-24-year-olds in the latest digital and cyber skills techniques. Their work will help protect the UK’s businesses and organisations from potential cyber-attacks, as well as open new opportunities in digital businesses.

HALO’s training will enable participants to attend further courses containing both on-site training and e-learning aiming to prepare them “with life skills and expertise suitable for employment in a number of fields,” HALO said in a statement.

Marie Macklin, founder and executive chair of The HALO Urban Regeneration Company, commented: “My vision is for The HALO to create a cyber/digital army of young people who will gain the skills necessary to go out into the UK’s businesses, third sector and public sector organisations to fight the ever-increasing number of cybercriminals who are threatening this country.

“This funding from the UK Government is indeed a great kick start for this scheme and will make a significant contribution to the UK’s future cybersecurity. But I do not want to stop at 200. I believe we could create opportunities for as many as 500 young people a year at The HALO.”

Upon completion of their first six months, the trainees will enter a further six-month work placement at companies such as Scottish Power with the hope that these become full-time opportunities further down the line.

The course was designed by Business Resilience International Management, headed by former CEO of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre Mandy Haeburn-Little.

HALO says that the programme is a key part of the firms “vision for a commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter where people can ‘live, work, learn and play'” in Scotland.


Also commenting on the project, UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said: “We are pleased to be working with HALO Kilmarnock to offer 200 young people from across Scotland the opportunity to develop the latest digital skills.

“The digital tech sector is one of Scotland’s biggest success stories and will make a vital contribution to economic recovery from coronavirus.

“The UK Government’s vision for the Kickstart scheme is to give young people a future of opportunity, I would like to thank HALO Kilmarnock for sharing this vision and being an early pioneer of the scheme.”

HALO’s new project is aiming to support the younger generation in Scotland after providing a boost to the elderly and vulnerable earlier this year.

Macklin announced a contribution of £100,000 in funding in March for elderly, vulnerable and struggling small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Lift Up Your Hearts’ package helped with food and medicines delivery and preventing isolation during the lockdown.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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