Simon Hepburn, CEO of the UK Cyber Security Council, says “Doing more of the same is not going to solve the problem. We need to tackle the skills gap by making people aware of the range of opportunities in cyber and encouraging people from different backgrounds to study and work in cyber.”
To tackle the skills gap, we need to widen the appeal of cyber as a career and widen the scope of cyber education accordingly.
The reason exemplary practice coaching can be so effective is because it builds confidence and develops self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, particularly within a higher education context, is key to academic success. Research into self-efficacy has indicated that autonomy and independence of students impacts not only on academic success but in careers beyond education (Crozier, 1997, Sander and Sanders, 2009).
This is where MK:U’s distinctive approach comes into its own. We have designed our cyber security courses to include management, professional skills and human factors training for cyber security professionals, complementing technical skills and opening up career opportunities in different cyber fields for our graduates.
Understanding both the human and the technical aspects of cyber security, and then applying that learning to real-world events, is a powerful way to develop cyber professionals who can build robust defences to a growing threat. At MK:U, we encourage a wider understanding of the cyber context by posing security challenges set by the apprentices’ own company or local small businesses. Our learners tackle a range of these challenges using problem-based learning methods, building curiosity and problem-solving, as well as technical skills. Challenges might include creating a social media post to warn customers about a current threat such as ransomware (communication and information skills); building a business case for investment in a new cyber security tool (business and commercial skills); and conducting a risk assessment and proposing remediation options (technical skills).
This range of learning activities appeals to a wider range of learners and builds well-rounded and adaptable professionals, needed to close the UK skills gap.