Sparking an interest in cyber

Raytheon UK leads team of local companies in building an education and training system to deliver diverse cyber talent to South West England

The CyberFirst Schools programme encourages young people to learn computer science and the application of cyber security in everyday technology.

The next generation of cybersecurity specialists is waiting in the wings. Some just need that little bit of inspiration.

The UK Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, published in December 2021, commits the government to significantly increase the number of people who have the skills to enter the cybersecurity workforce. Although the cybersecurity sector has rapidly grown in recent years, around 50% of the 1.32 million businesses in the UK have reported a shortage in basic cybersecurity skills. The National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst Schools programme is designed to help plug this gap, with the support of businesses like Raytheon UK.  

“The CyberFirst Schools programme is important because many students still do not recognise the different career opportunities that cybersecurity can offer" said Raj Badiani, business development executive at Raytheon UK. “By providing development and training opportunities to people from all walks of life and through various entry points in their careers, the programme has helped a diverse range of talented young people study computer science and consider a career in cyber.”

CyberFirst Schools promotes collaboration between local schools, the National Cyber Security Centre, national and local companies and organisations that share the aim of encouraging young people to engage with computer science and the application of cybersecurity in everyday technology.

Since 2018, the programme has engaged with schools in Gloucestershire. Now, a Raytheon UK-led consortium of companies based in South West England is helping to expand the programme by providing resources and support to schools in the region that are committed to providing a structured approach to excellence in cybersecurity education. 

“CyberFirst has done great work over the years in inspiring young people to pursue a career in cyber,” Badiani said. “We are helping to grow the programme further in the South West using our long-standing presence in the region and the relationships that we have built with local industry and education partners.”

Working alongside a team of local partners including CyNam, TechSpark SW, the South-West Cyber Cluster and Graphic Science, Raytheon UK is responsible for the end-to-end delivery of the 10-month CyberFirst Schools pilot programme in the South West.

This includes the assessment and evaluation of CyberFirst School applications using the "CyberFirst Schools in a Box" toolkit and the growth of the CyberFirst Schools community in the area. It also involves the maintenance of the CyberFirst Schools website, and partnering with industry and schools in the region to enable e-mentoring and work experience for students that have enrolled on to the CyberFirst programme.

“The NCSC is committed to providing young people with opportunities to excel in cybersecurity, and our work with industry plays a vital role in this,” said Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for Cyber Growth. “We are pleased to award Raytheon UK and its consortium of local partners the pilot contract for delivering our CyberFirst Schools programme in the South West and welcome their support in developing the region’s cyber skills ecosystem.”

For more information on the CyberFirst Schools programme and details on how schools or colleges can be recognised as a CyberFirst School, please click here.

Published On: 03/11/2022
Last Updated: 03/22/2022