Young people in Scotland can now register for their place at a range of free, cutting-edge cyber security courses, backed by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The three CyberFirst student courses, which will take place in the west of Scotland, delivered by QA and hosted by the UK’s largest STEM education charity, The Smallpeice Trust, are designed to provide 14-17 year-olds with hands-on learning on how everyday technology really works, and how to take sensible steps to protect the digital world.

The CyberFirst courses have been credit-rated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Other CyberFirst course activities will include how to spot a cyber threat, constructing a secure network, and using open source intelligence techniques, while the teens will also get the chance to improve their key skills such as teamwork and leadership.

The five-day residential courses, which run from 8th to 26th July in Paisley, also offer the chance for teens to experience university campus living.

Dr Kevin P. Stenson, chief executive of The Smallpeice Trust, said: “The exponential growth in mobile devices and the increasing rate in which everyone relies, in one way or another, on internet-enabled systems is changing the face of the UK workforce.

“The cyber security sector is set to be one of the fastest growing in the coming years, and it will rely on people from all backgrounds and abilities to contribute to finding the solutions to our cyber challenges.

“These courses have a technological slant, but the element that has made the courses so popular over the past three years is the chance for teens in Scotland to collaborate together and solve problems in a fun environment, working with some of the brightest, young cyber security professionals in the country.”

According to research by international cyber security training firm SANS, there will be approximately 24 billion internet-connected devices installed across the world by the turn of 2020.

This rate of acceleration will produce a global cyber security skills gap of 1.8 million people by 2022, according to analysts Frost & Sullivan. 

As more businesses and homes in Scotland will rely on internet based platforms and services, the importance of maintaining vigilant cyber security to avoid being victims of crime or cyber-vandalism will grow.

CyberFirst was launched in 2016, led by the NCSC, a part of GCHQ as a programme of opportunities to help young people explore the world of cyber security. 

This has developed into an initiative training tomorrow’s cyber security community, made up of people from a range of backgrounds who can learn the skills to safeguard their own digital worlds, at home and at work.

Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber skills and growth, said: “CyberFirst is a bold and innovative programme aimed at supporting and developing the UK’s cyber security talent and helping to address the cyber skills gap.

“Millennials are arguably the most naturally adept at using technology. Most have used web-enabled devices from a very early age and have an instinctive understanding of how to use them but not necessarily how they work and how to protect them.

“These courses will help prepare them for a possible career in cyber security and a role in making Britain the safest place to live and work online.”

During the 2019 summer period there are three types of residential courses on offer:

CyberFirst Defenders is an introduction for 14 and 15-year-olds on how to build and protect small networks and personal devices, how to define and apply first-line cyber defences, and steps that can be taken to manage personal digital footprints.

CyberFirst Futures will teach teens aged 15 and 16 about advanced cyber security threats to devices, apps and software, then discover ways to prevent them. This course involves learning how to secure personal devices, and how to do it for businesses in the future.

CyberFirst Advanced is open to students aged 16 and 17. It includes lessons on implementing digital forensics, understanding the latest encryption technologies, using open source intelligence techniques, and the course will hone the skills and behaviours required to enter the cyber security workplace.

Some 1,100 places across 22 UK residential and non-residential courses are available at locations in London, Wales, Northern Ireland, Southampton, Warwick, Cheltenham, and Newcastle.

Food, accommodation and 24-hour supervision by qualified professionals, will be provided.

Further information and registration details can be found here.