There are big changes happening in government at the moment and this includes security. One of the things the security profession is tackling, is the need to upskill our people and ensure we have a strong talent pipeline for the future.
A Cyber Security Technologist standard was designed, approved and published back in May 2016. The standard looks at common industry language, role requirements and the skills needed to help narrow the cyber skills shortage in government.
This work has paved the way for 25 new Cyber Security Technologist Apprentices for 2017. They will be part of the the Cyber Security Apprenticeship Scheme (CAS), which is funded by the National Cyber Security Programme.
There were two pilots before this, which were led by the Cabinet Office. A small team in HMRC, who now delivers CAS, are using a new approach:
- The recruitment is strengths-based and not a competency assessment, which is usual practice. This helps focus the recruitment on the applicant's strengths, numerical reasoning and technical aptitude. Additionally, we took a more inclusive approach on social mobility, gender balance and those on the autism spectrum
- Knowledge modules are based on blended learning; using a virtual environment, webinars, face-to-face mentoring and formal classroom activity
- Trialling Assistant Officer grades, instead of them being at Executive Officer level. This decision is based on employer and line manager feedback, while aligning to other apprenticeship delivering organisations, within the Critical National Infrastructure and CESG. This has helped us offer a competitive salary to those enrolling.
It’s very encouraging to see the level of interest we have had in the programme and cyber security. We plan to engage with other government departments, who will bid for cyber apprentices, in January 2017. This ensures that promotion, attraction and recruitment align with the academic year, with apprenticeships beginning in September 2017.
Ideally the apprentices will be recruited on permanent contracts across government. This will help with retention of these critical cyber skills, and develop them further to become experts of the future.
Jon Ashton, Head of Profession for Security