National Cyber Security Academy in Wales Set to Open

(Photo: Luis Llerena, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Luis Llerena, Creative Commons)

A new school specifically for the training of cyber security professionals will be opening in the next academic year in Wales.

The National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA) is opening in Newport in October at the University of South Wales Newport City Campus. The USW and the Welsh Government have joined together on this project to address the shortage of cyber security specialists.

Professor Julie Lydon, vice-chancellor of the University of South Wales, said that cyber security is a priority to the Wales government. She stated:

Cyber security – along with terrorism, international military crises, and major accidents and natural disasters – is seen by the UK Government as one of the four major national security threats facing the country.

… That's the demand that the NCSA will address. Putting students and industry together to come up with solutions to online problems.

The NCSA will be working together with other industry players like Innovation Point, Airbus, General Dynamics UK, Alert Logic, Information Assurance, QinetiQ, Silcox Information Security, Westgate Cyber, Wolfberry, and South Wales Cyber Security Cluster to train students and create curricula with current information. The £500,000 pilot initiative will have USW undergraduates majoring in Computer Forensics and Computer Security as they work on real-world projects from NCSA partners in addition to testing the courses, reports Alexander Sword of Computer Business Review Online. If it's successful, the University will create a full-time degree program in Applied Cyber Security and take on new students.

The NCSA is part of the plans for the development of the Newport Knowledge Quarter, which would be a collaboration with Coleg Gwent to expand the campus further into the riverbank area. The project has a total budget of £60 million. The Office for National Statistics will also be opening a new data hub nearby, possibly creating more local opportunities.

The NCSA is the first school of its kind in Wales, and those involved hope to build on the existing cyber security expertise in the city and turn the area into a capital of quality cyber security training.

Chris Kelsey of Wales Online quoted Economy Minister Edwina Hart, who said:

Cyber crime continues to pose a growing global security threat and there is a real demand for highly skilled cyber security experts to tackle this issue. South Wales is already a renowned center for cyber security expertise and this initiative is designed to deliver the highly specialist skills required by businesses working in the sector.

Cyber security is critical to any business with an online presence, and therefore the field is quickly expanding. By nature, the field must also constantly change to deal with new technology and new threats. However, there's also a huge skills gap to deal with: it's estimated that by 2019, the world will need 6 million cyber security experts but only have 4.5 million qualified professionals.

A survey by the HR firm Harvey Nash revealed that 50% of hiring managers are looking for security architects, 42% are looking for security training and awareness professionals, 39% need information security leaders, 34% need SCO analysts, and 33% need security engineering professionals. Some companies spend  £16 million a year to keep themselves safe, reports BBC News, suggesting that it's a lucrative field for students to enter.

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