The number of young women applying to courses in cyber-security has soared in recent times, according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
A report published by the NCSC finds that the number of girls putting themselves forward to participate in the agency’s CyberFirst courses held over the summer of 2019, shot up by 47% in comparison with figures from the same time-frame last year.
Fittingly, news of the spike in interest in the cyber-security programmes – which are offered free of charge – came on Ada Lovelace Day which celebrates women’s achievement in STEM sectors (science, technology, engineering and maths).
The NCSC’s figures say that almost 12,000 girls were involved in the agency’s esteemed CyberFirst Girls Competition 2019. The report also revealed that 705 young women participated in the NCSC’s CyberFirst Defenders course, which educates young women on how to construct and protect small networks and personal devices.
The courses are held at venues across Britain, but it’s not just girls who are eager to expand their skillset in the crucial areas that the programmes address; the NCSC reported a 29% increase on the overall number of applications put forward to the agency this year, in comparison with the number registered in 2018.
Each year, the NCSC hosts a number of one- and five-day courses for youngsters between the ages of 11 and 17 years. Those selected for the courses are introduced to technology exploration, enabling candidates to get to grips with the ways in which everyday tech operates. Participants also attend lectures, take part in hands-on assignments and put together presentations which may be heard by guest speakers.
Saskia, an attendee of a CyberFirst Futures course held in Cardiff, Wales, said:
“I haven’t had the opportunity to study computer science at school, but CyberFirst has encouraged me to consider the subject at University—I just wish the course was longer!”
The NCSC’s CyberFirst initiative also gives young people the chance to apply for a bursary of £4,000 to help them pursue their interests in cyber-security through courses at university level.
The programme’s participants can also apply for three-year apprenticeships in the cyber-security sector which segue into a recognised degree course while being paid.
Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for growth, said:
“We’re delighted to see so many young people interested in finding out more about cyber-security. The significant rise in female applications is especially pleasing, and something we want to see continue into the future.
“It’s never been more important to increase and diversify the cybersecurity workforce and we’re committed to nurturing the next generation of skilled experts and addressing the gender imbalance.”
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