An online programme designed to inspire teenagers to think about a career in cyber security will continue for a second year after a successful pilot across England and be extended to Scotland.

More than 23,000 young people aged between 14 and 18 have already taken part in the Cyber Discovery programme which uses interactive games to teach teenagers about cyber security in an accessible and fun way. Those who perform at the highest levels, will also have the opportunity to attend a special summer camp to hone their skills and meet industry leaders.

The scheme sits within Cyber First, the UK Government’s cyber security skills programme, which is part of the £1.9bn investment through the National Cyber Security Strategy to transform the UK’s cyber security and ensure skills are built within the workforce of the future.

Margot James, the UK’s Minister for Digital, said: “We need to inspire young people and show them a career in cyber security can be exciting and rewarding, not only to give them more opportunities but also help build a talented workforce for the future. The Cyber Discovery programme has been a great success so far. I hope more teenagers will take part and learn that those working in cyber security can come from any walk of life, and have studied any subject.”

The £20m discovery programme teaches students about subjects including digital forensics, defending against web attacks and cryptography. It is being delivered by the SANS Institute., the IT security training company. The programme is also a key part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy; a plan to ensure that businesses have the skilled workers they need.

James Lyne, head of research and development for the SANS Institute said: “Based on the success of last year’s Cyber Discovery programme, it’s clear there’s both the appetite and the aptitude to learn about cyber security in the UK.

“Before taking part in Cyber Discovery, 40.4% of female students and 35.5% of male students hadn’t even considered a career in cyber security. This dropped to 9.6% and 6.3% respectively after these students took part in the programme.

“Many of the club leaders, who are also computer science teachers, told us they used Cyber Discovery last year to complement their lesson plans. We hope to extend this enthusiasm and passion for cyber security across the UK in year two.”

Any young person between the ages of 14 to 18 can take part. Registration and completion of the first assessment phase closes on 7 January 2019. You can find out more here.