GCHQ 'Cyber First' scheme attempts to fill skills gap

Yesterday in Parliament, Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, announced a new GCHQ programme designed to meet the growing demand for cyber-security skills and to bolster the UK's information-security foundation. The pilot student sponsorship scheme, called Cyber First, seeks to identify “the next generation of cyber-security experts.”

Drawing from the “broadest range of backgrounds,” Cyber First seeks individuals who already demonstrate aptitude, showing cyber-security career potential via competitions like the Cyber Security Challenge, as well as other maths and sciences competitions. Students studying relevant curriculum at an undergraduate level, as well as those who have worked within the field of national security at government or UK private sector firms, will be eligible for enrollment as well as financial assistance provided by GCHQ of £4,000 each for as many as twenty open spots in the programme.

“Our aspiration is simple – we want the UK to be one of the safest places to do business and use services online,” Francis Maude said in Parliament. “The new Cyber First scheme will help ensure we recruit and nurture talent and that the UK has the best possible skills to protect itself for the future.”

Additionally, the minister included in his address, two more UK universities have been recognised as an ‘Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research' by GCHQ in partnership with the Research Councils' (RCUK) Global Uncertainties Programme and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Information on the pilot scheme, which is based heavily on the Talpiot scheme in Israel, can be found on the GCHQ careers website.

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