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Wannabe hacker, you're hired: Brit bosses mull cyber-apprenticeships

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Britain's biggest businesses are draughting up cyber-security apprenticeships to train the online samurais of the future.

According to digital knowhow spreader e-Skills, just seven per cent of all computer security professionals are aged between 20 and 29. The employer-led quango sees apprenticeships as a vital way of encouraging the kids to get down with this vital sector and help battle online threats that are constantly emerging.

Thus, e-Skills is working with a number of big firms - including privatised defence boffins at QinetiQ, and engineers at BT, IBM, Cassidian, CREST and disability benefit assessors Atos - to develop nationally available degree-level apprenticeships.

Just like trade apprenticeships, these positions will come with wages and give young people a chance to build a career while earning a decent qualification.

Coordinated by the National Skills Academy for IT, the apprenticeships will be created later this year. The intent is to provide the sort of useful skills in demand from employers, while attracting women and other groups who are currently under-represented in the sector.

Paul Thorlby, technical and strategy director at QinetiQ and chair of the employer group, said: "QinetiQ are pleased to be driving this partnership with e-skills UK and other industry employers to shape development opportunities for our next generation of cyber professionals."

Specialising in defence tech, Qinetiq knows the risks of inadequate digital defences, having been repeatedly targeted by Chinese hackers over a three-year period.

Currently there are few "structured routes for young people to enter the cyber security work sector", said Bob Nowill, director of cyber and assurance at BT.

"We are pleased to be contributing to this opportunity to proactively grow new talent which is directly aligned to the needs of industry,” he added.

The new scheme will be supported by dosh from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, a taxpayer-funded operation set up to offer the government advice on skills and employment. ®

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