Developing Gloucestershire’s Future Cyber Generation…

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Focusing on the digital skills businesses need

The UK has one of the most vibrant digital economies in the world; however, there is not currently the cyber security skills base to match. Both the government and private sector are affected by a shortage in skills, and there is a need to nurture an aptitude for jobs that require deep technical expertise.

Earlier this year, Cheltenham Borough Council announced its aim to make Cheltenham the cyber capital of the UK in its three-year corporate strategy, and we’ve already seen steps towards achieving this ambitious aim with a £37.5m acquisition of 45 hectares of prime development land for a new cyber business park. Located near GCHQ and Gloucestershire College’s Cheltenham campus, the acquisition of land marks a significant step towards the Cyber Central plan.

Recognising the shortage in digital IT and cyber security skills, Gloucestershire College (GC) is also taking measures to provide businesses with access to cutting-edge IT and cyber training. Partnered with The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), GC offers digital apprenticeships such as Cyber Security Technologist, Network Engineer and Software Developer that are allowing businesses to grow their own tech talent in house.

Cyber Security Associates is one company already benefitting from taking on cyber security apprentices. Dave Woodfine, Director at Cyber Security Associates, commented: “Cyber Security Associates (CSA) places a huge emphasis on retaining local talent within Gloucestershire. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting Gloucestershire College and their cyber security apprenticeship programme. We’re excited to be helping develop the future cyber professionals that the industry so desperately needs.”

GC’s expert trainers have a great deal of flexibility to deliver training that is tailored to meet employers’ needs. For example, four software developers on the same programme could all be learning different programming languages such as Java Script, C#, Visual Basic. NET and Python, depending on what they need in their role. Both the employer and the apprentice are guided to achieve a specific goal or competency, in college and the workplace.

Partnership with UWE Bristol to deliver cyber degrees in Cheltenham

Gloucestershire College (GC) has also announced an exciting venture with the University of West of England (UWE Bristol) to offer new cyber degrees in Cheltenham from September 2020. The strengthened partnership will expand computing and cyber security courses offered locally through a dedicated cyber training facility at GC’s Cheltenham campus. This builds on the recent announcement of over £2m of investment in cyber training facilities at the campus through the Government’s Institute of Technology programme.

GC and UWE Bristol will work together to provide businesses and students with access to first-class cyber training and cutting edge information security solutions to support Cheltenham Borough Council’s aim to make Cheltenham the cyber capital. At GC, training is delivered practically in college and the workplace; apprentices complete their apprenticeships with not only recognised professional qualifications, but also valuable industry knowledge, skills and behaviours that they can implement in their roles.

Professor Steve West, Vice Chancellor of UWE Bristol, and Matthew Burgess, Principal of Gloucestershire College, are delighted to offer new cyber security degrees in Gloucestershire, and the digital skills that the county needs.

Matthew Burgess commented: “Recognising the national shortage in cyber skills, we were keen to identify a partner with academic rigour and research credibility in this field, so we are delighted to expand our current higher IT apprenticeships offering with a range of programmes including cyber security degrees, which will be available from 2020 in partnership with UWE. This will generate a boost for the local economy, as well as significantly raise Gloucestershire’s cyber profile. This is a transformational time for Cheltenham as it cements itself as the cyber capital for the nation; the cyber business park is a much anticipated development for the county, and will attract more businesses to the area. At GC, we are committed to supporting Gloucestershire businesses with employee training and apprenticeship programmes. Our partnership with UWE will ensure that we can support organisations by providing a strong talent pipeline of highly-skilled individuals as we train the next cyber generation.”

Professor Steve West added: “We are delighted to extend our degree offering for local Gloucestershire students at Gloucestershire College’s Cheltenham Campus. This is particularly significant at a time when, strategically, Cheltenham is establishing itself as the cyber capital of the UK.

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