A technology company run by a Blackburn entrepreneur has been nominated as a North West delivery partner for a pilot of CyberFirst Schools, run by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC).
Mo Isap, who runs the HOST innovation hub, the Home of Skills and Technology in MediaCity, will help advance cyber education in the region’s Northwest Cyber Corridor.
Through its flagship Skills City operation, HOST will deliver the CyberFirst Schools pilot over a one-year period to more than 500 schools and colleges across the Northwest to inspire more young people to explore careers in cybersecurity.
The collaboration will further increase fair access to technology careers, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups, including girls and young women, where representation in the sector is considerably low, with women representing only 22% of the workforce. UK cyber work.
The CyberFirst Schools initiative recognizes schools and colleges across the UK that are committed to encouraging young people to develop cyber skills, with the NCSC awarding them gold, silver or bronze status.
Since the initiative launched in 2020, 49 CyberFirst schools and colleges have been recognized, helping to develop cyber-skills ecosystems across the country and addressing the cyber-skills gap in the industry.
The CyberFirst Girls Competition 2022 final was also held at HOST in Salford and was focused on inspiring girls aged 12-13 to consider pursuing a career in cybersecurity.
HOST, operated by the Preston-based IN4 Group, which is managed by Mr. Isap, will utilize its extensive network of local and national employers to help facilitate engagement between industry and schools in the region.
This will allow more young people to access opportunities, such as mentoring and work experience, outside of the classroom and in the growing technology sector.
It will work with leading industry and regional academic partners, including BAE Systems, Raytheon, Siemens, AWS, University of Central Lancashire and University of Salford, to drive further investment in future-proof technology schools and talent.
Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, said: “Being born and raised in Blackburn, it is fantastic to see such great prospects for Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and we now have a significant opportunity to inspire future generations in technology careers with the program. CyberFirst .
“This will have a huge impact on young people across the region who are currently living in places like Salford, Accrington and Blackpool.
“The union of education, skills, technology and industry is the main enabler to create prosperity in the region.
“With the UK government investing over £5bn in its new National Cyber Force in Samlesbury, Lancashire, the region is leading the way in establishing more innovation and skills as part of the emerging North West Cyber Corridor. ”.
The contract follows HOST’s successful delivery of three rounds of GCHQ’s Innovation Co-Lab – a program that aimed to find innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses in the Northwest.
Successful companies participated in a 12-week program to work with GCHQ technologists and industry experts to improve their products.
HOST also held the first Northwest Cyber Summit in March to support the construction of the Cyber Corridor.
NCSC Deputy Director of Cyber Growth Chris Ensor said: “NCSC is committed to providing young people with opportunities to excel in cybersecurity, and our work with the industry plays a vital role in this.
“We are pleased that HOST will be piloting our CyberFirst Schools initiative in the Northwest on our behalf and appreciate their support in developing the region’s cyber skills ecosystem.”
The CyberFirst program offers a variety of free opportunities designed to provide young people with the skills, opportunities and exposure they need to thrive in cybersecurity.
More information about CyberFirst opportunities in the Northwest can be found on the HOST website.