School and college students are set to learn vital digital skills through the region’s first cyber security and hacking lab, thanks to funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The need for digital skills across all sectors of industry continues to grow rapidly, and people with such skills are expected to be in even greater demand as the region’s economy recovers from the Covid-19 shutdown.
The WMCA is funding £100,000 to create an ethical hacking, computer network and security challenge centre in the West Midlands, to increase the number of young people developing cyber security skills and raise awareness of the range of careers in the sector.
Students will gain hands-on experience in a range of activities, including interactive challenges, where one team is given the task to protect against hackers, and the other to try to get through their opponents’ defences.
Matt Jones, chair of the West Midlands Digital Skills Partnership Board, said: “We know that cyber crime is continuing to increase in scale and complexity, affecting essential services, businesses and private individuals.
“Cyber crime costs the UK billions of pounds each year, causes untold damage and threatens national security, so it’s vital that we have a local workforce with the skills needed to combat cyber attacks as they become ever more sophisticated. We know there is a digital skills gap across all industries, and jobs in technology continue to be in high demand even during the lockdown.
“Our young people are our future and we need their contribution to help rebuild our region’s economy in the longer term after the Covid-19 crisis. It’s great that the WMCA is enabling young people to learn new digital skills through innovative training programmes, such as the cyber security and hacking lab.”
Dedicated to finding the next generation of cyber security talent and inspiring young people to go on to further training and employment, the lab will be free for all schools and colleges in the WMCA area to use from September.
It will also raise awareness among young people of the importance of cyber security, and the risks and ethics involved in the profession.
The WMCA is now calling on training providers, colleges, community organisations or charities to lead the development of the cyber security and hacking lab.
The deadline for expressions of interest is 12:00hrs on 15 July, and proposals should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information visit https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-skills/hacking-lab-tender/
The WMCA is also investing £5m through the ‘Beat the Bots’ digital retraining fund to equip local people with the skills needed to gain new jobs in the digital sector. For more information visit https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-and-skills/online-resources/