Cyber Wales supporting the Cyber Security Skills Gap in Wales

Developing Excellence sessions with Cyber Wales

For the next instalment in our Developing Excellence series, we spoke to John Davies and Jason Davies from Cyber Wales, a representative body with the aim of being the Heart and the Voice of the Cyber communities in Wales.

John and Jason began the first Welsh Cyber forum in July 2014, followed by the foundation of two North and South Wales clusters the following year due to huge popularity. Cyber Wales consists of nine clusters around the country, covering four strands, which address key areas of the cyber community:

  • Business – both large and small
  • Education – colleges, schools, and universities
  • Government – both Welsh government and UK government
  • Defence – policing and military

Cyber as an industry is constantly evolving, as digitalisation is the current phase of technological advancement, and this brings with it new challenges. John explains that whether it be through “digital ID, digital traffic management or digital government, the more digitalised a country is, the more streamlined it becomes and it means your comms is lightning fast, you talk with your population better”. While technology has enabled digital advancement, John notes that this progress in technology also “enables criminals to capitalise on this, so the reason for the huge rise in cybercrime, is because we’re suddenly digitalising everything”. 

Both Jason and John stress the importance of upskilling those teaching the next generation of cyber workers, as the fast-changing and widespread nature of the industry means there will always be something new or a new way of looking at it. Those trainers taking part in the Developing Excellence sessions must be aware that to gather a broad knowledge of cyber for the purpose of better educating their students, someone who has completed all the CPD for the offensive Cyber subjects, for example, would then need to look at defensive as well as business. 

“CPD is incredibly important, I’m not advocating that every teacher become a cyber expert, but rather that they need to be able to know enough to guide their learners. That’s the same for every industry, but its particularly difficult in this industry because it’s so fast moving.” (Jason Davies, Cyber Wales)

This year Cyber Wales ran two CPD sessions, the first of which involved the trainers taking part in the same competition the students entered in last year’s Skills Competition Wales. “We wanted them to experience it from the student’s perspective, so they could see what skills are tested”, says Jason. The second session was based on feedback and results from the logs and focused on what the trainers struggled with or wanted to know more about from the example in the first session.

John and Jason consider this approach a great way to further the relationship between trainer and student. Jason believes this “creates a shared experience for them, as one of the most common things we hear from teachers is ‘how can I best prepare my students for competitions?’”. Experiencing the competitions from a student’s perspective therefore allows trainers to better prepare their students for the competitions. Often lessons involve teaching staff explaining a subject from a theoretical stand, but this approach allows them to reflect on real experience which subsequently creates a more equal footing with their students.

Figures from 2021 show that the UK’s cybersecurity recruitment pool has a shortfall of 10,000 people a year, with the UK government reporting a 50% basic skills gap and 33% advanced technical skills gap. Naturally, as the industry grows, so will the skills gap, as more in our society becomes digitised so increases the need to secure these newly digitised areas. 

“I think this is where things like ISE, schools and colleges have a role to play in connecting industry and education. If industries were to turn around and say we need people with skills in these ten things, courses can be altered, and competitions can be geared around those ten things.” (Jason Davies, Cyber Wales)

To learn more about Cyber Wales and its forums click here

For more information on all CPD training click here


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