A pilot project to provide cyber-security retraining to Scottish Armed Forces veterans is set to start with an eight-week penetration testing course at Abertay University in Dundee.
The course, open to veterans, service leavers and reservists among others, runs from March-April and is funded by Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with SaluteMyJob, Abertay University, IBM and tech start-up Skillzminer. Although the initial intake is now full, candidates can apply to a waitlist.
Students gain academic credits for completing the course, and coupled with workplace experience would be able to sit a professional qualification exam to become a Certified Ethical Hacker, CREST Registered Penetration Tester or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Course participant Richard Barratt, a former marine with 45 Commando in Arbroath, said: “The support, guidance and advice SaluteMyJob has provided me in supporting my career transition into a cyber role has been excellent and is a testament to the team's hard work and dedication. In addition, the opportunity and privilege of attending two of their courses has attracted the attention of several high-profile organisations in my current search for a new role.”
A recent Skills Development Scotland report estimated that some 13,000 digital jobs in Scotland are created each year, and that the tech sector overall will be the second fastest growing one in Scotland between now and 2029.
“Security personnel have a range of highly relevant skills, from requiring precision and long periods of focussed activity, through to direct intelligence work. So, it makes absolute sense to retrain with a cyber-security focus. Figures vary, but some put the skills gap in cyber-security at three million globally, which highlights the need to maximise the use of existing skill sets - of which this is an excellent example,” said Mandy Haeburn-Little, CEO of Business Resilience International Management (BRIM).
“Although business leaders are becoming more aware of cyber-security threats, there is a great need for education at all levels of the business spectrum - the fact is that the biggest cyber-weakness in most businesses today is human error.”
Claire Gillespie, digital technology sector manager for Skills Development Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support this dedicated veteran’s reskilling programme, with funding from the Scottish Government. This pilot explores new and innovative ways of ensuring we can meet the demand for skilled workers. Military personnel bring a raft of relevant skills ideally suited to cyber roles, and our aim is to build a new pipeline of much needed talent for the tech sector.”
The Scottish Government’s Cyber Resilience: Learning and Skills Action Plan 2018-20 suggests that the global cyber-security workforce gap is expected to reach 1.8 million by 2022.
SaluteMyJob managing director Andrew Jackson said: “Service men and women have the knowledge, skills and experience to transition relatively easily into well paid jobs in cyber-security. Most think cyber is deeply technical. The fact is, generalist military training is ideally suited to roles as security consultants, incident and operations centre managers, as well as more specialist roles such as penetration testing. Alongside employer partners such as IBM, DXC, Stratia Cyber, Claranet, Quorum Cyber and others, we look forward to helping military people realign their military skills to the fast-growing world of cyber-security.”