Kid you not: Here's how UK government plans to beef up our cybersecurity

With the threat of international cyber-warfare and cyber-attacks in general looming larger than ever, the UK government is taking action to train the next generation of security experts with a programme of extra-curricular clubs for school children.

The big plan is for the Cyber Schools Programme – which is backed by £20 million worth of funding – to deliver cyber-security training to thousands of teenagers, mixing traditional teaching (both in the classroom and online) with hands-on activities and real-world challenges.

This is all about making up for the cyber-skills shortage which has been talked about for some time now. Obviously enough, the defence of the nation’s networks and computers, including vital government and corporate data, is a high priority – particularly when future conflicts may be fought online as much as in the real world.

Four-year course

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is spearheading this scheme and aims to train up at least 5,700 teenagers by the time 2021 arrives. Participants will be those who have demonstrated an aptitude for this type of computing work, with four hours per week devoted to their training over a four-year programme which they’ll start aged 14.

That said, the government noted that older students will be able to join later in the programme, as the course will be modular (assuming they already have the skills covered earlier in the curriculum).

The initial pilot of the project will kick-off this September in the new school year.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, commented: “This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies. We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extracurricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent.”

We wouldn’t be surprised if this was just the start of a line of initiatives aimed at creating talent to fill cybersecurity roles across the UK.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).