Cyber skills training for more than 50,000 secondary-school students 

Some 2,000 UK schools have signed up to the UK government’s free learning platform Cyber Explorers. The site aims to boost cyber skills and aid aspiring young people aim for careers in cyber. 

The Cyber Explorers platform, launched in February 2022, introduces students aged 11-14 to key cyber security concepts, supporting learning objectives for key stages 2 and 3. It equips them with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to pursue computer science courses at key stage 4 and beyond. Some 2,000 schools and 50,000 students are now registered.

Artwork from CyberExplorers platform

Artwork from CyberExplorers platform

The government is keen to develop a pipeline of talent able to meet the growing needs of the UK’s in-demand cyber security industry. Interactive quizzes and activities of the Cyber Explorers platform aim to show the students how developing skills in digital, computing and cyber can help them navigate online and open up paths to careers ranging from AI innovation to medical research, sports technology to social media content creation. 

Students can explore a range of challenging scenarios, collect virtual badges and pick up tips from the ‘Cyber Ranger’ and experts in the ‘Cyber Squad’.   

Teachers, parents and guardians of home-schooled students simply need to register – for free – and their students can access free lesson plans, resources and guides for wider educational support. Schools taking part in Cyber Explorers have also hosted various career-focused sessions for students, with visits from leading companies such as Amazon and Verizon who were able to showcase to students some of the practical applications of cyber skills. 

This is important because a report published last year on cyber security skills in the UK labour market concluded that around half of all businesses had a gap in basic cyber skills. The UK cyber sector is worth some £10.5bn and the number of cyber security job postings rose by 30% to 160,000 but the cyber workforce in the UK faces a shortfall of some 11,200 people. Women comprise just 17% of those employed in the sector, while senior roles are typically not representative of gender or ethnic diversity across wider society. 

Cyber Explorers is one of a range of initiatives launched by the government to build and strengthen cyber skills among those in education and employment. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) also runs a CyberFirst programme, designed to nurture talent and help those under 25 to develop a passion for tech, offering support, skills, experience and opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds. The government’s wider commitment to enhancing Britain’s cyber skills more widely over the next few years is set out in the UK Science and Technology Framework and £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy. 

Viscount Camrose, Minister for Cyber, says: ‘The UK’s growing cyber sector is where the technological innovations and digital discoveries of the future will start. That’s why we’re focused on breaking down the barriers to entry, and creating new opportunities for young people to gain the skills and knowledge that could kick-start exciting careers in cyber. 

‘More than 2,000 schools across the country are already signed up to Cyber Explorers, meaning that tens of thousands of pupils can benefit from the resources on offer – and we want to make sure even more get that chance this year.’ 

Karen Morris, Year 8 teacher at Stroud High School, adds: ‘The Cyber Explorers platform has provided a way for us to teach about cyber skills to our Year 8 students in an engaging, and creative way. The fact that this platform is so good yet free is just fantastic!’ 

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, says: ‘I’m always delighted to see more students being introduced to the exciting world of cyber security, and Cyber Explorers acts a fun and engaging first step on that journey. 

‘The UK’s cyber industry is growing rapidly, but it’s facing a skills shortage as a result – which is why it’s so important to have initiatives such as Cyber Explorers which work to uncover cyber talent and support young people across the country in exploring the career opportunities this thriving industry has to offer. 

‘As part of the CyberFirst Programme, Cyber Explorers will play a key role in making cyber more accessible to young people, building the cyber skills pipeline of the future.’


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