Scotland Moves to Strengthen Cyber Skills
A new cyber skills action plan, £20,000 bursaries for teachers studying STEM skills and a ‘cyber bus’ all aim to address the country’s long-term cyber resilience.
The Scottish government has launched a series of initiatives to ensure Scotland’s cyber resilience increases and that the country is producing more teachers with vital STEM skills and teaching every citizen the key skills needed to be safe and secure in an increasingly digital world.
Cyber Resilience Learning and Skills Action Plan
The new Cyber Resilience Skills Plan will make cyber skills an integral part of Scotland’s long-term learning and development. The plan includes key actions for education, business and the public sector to strengthen and embed understanding of the importance of cybersecurity. The plan was produced by the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board working with stakeholders including Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland.
Increasing awareness of cyber resilience and developing a strong pool of talent with the necessary skills and knowledge of cybersecurity will be at heart of improving the country’s resilience to online and digital threats.
The aims of the action plan are to:
- Improve Scotland’s cyber resilience by raising awareness and increasing engagement
- Ensure cyber resilience is embedded throughout education and lifelong learning system
- Increase cyber resilience at work
- Develop the cybersecurity workforce to ensure that demand for skills can be met and cyber professionals can find rewarding employment in Scotland
The Cyber Resilience Plan was launched by Economy Secretary Keith Brown, who said:
“This plan is a blueprint for the Scottish Government and all its partners across the public and private sectors to work together to enhance our wider understanding of cybersecurity.
“We want to see people across Scotland, whether in early years, school, college or the workplace, get greater opportunities to develop the skills needed to be safe and resilient in their online lives.
“The plan also sets out how we can ensure we have a strong pool of professionals able to secure our businesses, charities and public services against current and future threats, and who can develop innovative goods and services for the rest of the world.
“Supporting the development of these specialist skills will be vital to the success of other activity on cyber resilience as well as our forthcoming plan to help us to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by our work on cyber security.”
STEM Teacher Bursaries
The Scottish government is also addressing the country’s lack of teachers in key science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, with a new bursary scheme.
Career changers aiming to become STEM teachers will be able to apply for one of 100 new £20,000 training bursaries from 3 April for post-graduate teacher training courses starting in August 2018.
The goal is to produce more teachers in these key skills and ensure Scotland’s STEM capacity in school subjects such as maths, computing science, physics and technical education is sufficient to meet the rapidly growing demand.
Speaking of the bursaries, Education Secretary John Swinney said:
“Developing Scotland’s STEM talent and capability will drive economic growth and increase innovation. The key to having more young people enthused and inspired to learn STEM and take up jobs and careers in these fields is having great STEM teachers.
“We know there are people with the talent and experience needed to inspire the next generation, and we want to make a career in teaching more accessible to a wider range of people.
“These bursaries will make it easier for those considering a career change into teaching to take that step, bridging the gap in employment and making a move into teaching a real possibility for many more people.”
The Cyber Bus
A new cyber-skills initiative is already on its way around Scotland. The Cyber Bus, supported by the Scottish Government is visiting schools up and down the country to deliver a series of fun and interactive lesson plans, highlighting career opportunities within cybersecurity.
As well as showcasing jobs, the lesson plans will also raise awareness of online dangers and will educate young people on how to protect themselves.
Though there are just four schools being visited on this pilot tour, if it proves successful the hopes are to expand the tour across the country.
Dr Martin Beaton, Cyber Security Cluster Co-ordinator for Scotland, said:
“The threat of cyber-crime is only going to increase, which is why Scotland needs a strong talent pool of cyber security professionals. Currently there is a chronic shortage of skilled workers, which is where our lesson plans come in. They are fun, engaging and genuinely intend to inspire young people to consider a career in the cyber security industry, as well as offer friendly advice on how best to stay safe online.
“Government statistics have revealed that almost half of UK firms were hit by a cyber breach or attack in the past 12-months. The cyber security sector is suffering from a chronic shortage of skilled professionals, which is where our lesson plans come in. They are fun, engaging and genuinely intend to inspire young people to consider a career in the cyber security industry.”
Joining the tour bus will be Network and Cybersecurity students from Abertay University, Dundee University and Glasgow Caledonian University who will help to deliver the interactive lessons.
John McGuigan, a 3rd year student at Caledonian, Cyber Security and Networks, told DIGIT:
“I really have enjoyed delivering part of the lesson plan as it is such a fascinating subject. I have now signed up to be a STEM Ambassador after experiencing the Cyber bus activities.”