CyberFirst: QA and NCSC launch free cyber courses for teens during lockdown

The popular CyberFirst learning programme will be hosted this summer via immersive virtual classrooms, giving young people between 14 and 17 years the opportunity to develop cyber skills from home – for free.

Today the government has launched a selection of free online cyber courses for school pupils across the UK. Central to this initiative is The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)'s CyberFirst learning programme – in partnership with QA – giving 14- to 17-year-olds the opportunity to learn and develop cybersecurity skills from their homes through immersive and interactive virtual classrooms.

Through CyberFirst, the NCSC is pledging to deliver free cyber skills to over 1,000 young people this summer, giving them access to course content accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and GCHQ Certified Training (GCT). Taught by QA’s expert cybersecurity and networking trainers, students on the programme will learn how to code and carry out cybersecurity operations.

The CyberFirst programme has introduced young people to cyber skills since 2016, training over 4,000 budding cyber specialists at face-to-face events across the UK and NI. Providing a learning path, CyberFirst is designed so students can build on their knowledge year on year. This year's switch to a virtual delivery model will ensure that those already on their CyberFirst journey can maintain continuity and new students can start theirs.

QA Chairman, Sir Charlie Mayfield, says:

“These initiatives from NCSC and DCMS are set to deliver a great summer of learning for young people across the UK. Digital skills are the single largest area of skills shortage in the UK and the CyberFirst programmes tackle this issue head on – and have the added benefit of keeping young minds active at this difficult time.

"The road to the UK’s economic recovery from this pandemic will be built on the skills we learn at this time. That’s why it was critical that initiatives like CyberFirst were pivoted to virtual delivery, so they could go ahead as planned. We are proud to partner with the NCSC to deliver these fully virtual training programmes.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said:

“This new initiative will give teenagers something fun and educational to do from home and provide them with a glimpse into the life of a cyber security professional.

We have a world-leading cyber sector which plays a crucial role protecting the country and our digital economy, so it is absolutely vital we continue to inspire the next generation of tech talent to help maintain the UK’s strong position.”

Applications for CyberFirst summer courses are now open. Find out more about CyberFirst and apply here. 

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