Lancaster pupils are to be trained by the government to protect the UK from cyber security threats.
The National Cyber Security Centre, part of surveillance agency GCHQ, will teach teens from the county and across the region to crack codes, secure IT networks and protect friends and family from cyber-attacks as part of a government drive to bolster the UK’s online defences.
Three free CyberFirst courses, which are open to girls and boys aged 14-17, will be delivered by training experts QA and education charity The Smallpeice Trust at Lancaster University in August.
The five-day residential programmes range from introductory to advanced skills and will give students an insight into the world of cyber security, as well as the tools, knowledge and skills required.
Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber skills and growth, said: “CyberFirst is a bold and innovative programme aimed at supporting and developing the UK’s potential cyber security talent and helping to address the cyber skills gap.
“Millennials are arguably the most naturally adept at using technology. Most have used internet-enabled devices from a very early age and have an instinctive understanding of how to use them but not necessarily how they work and how to protect them.
“Working through CyberFirst, we hope to attract and inspire teens in Lancaster to pursue cyber security careers by providing a gateway for young people from all backgrounds to explore the possibilities of working within the sector.
“As well as equipping them with cutting-edge skills, these courses will help prepare them for a possible career in cyber security and a role in making Britain the safest place to live and work online.”
A study last year by recruitment website CWJobs found 94% of tech employers believe there is an IT skills shortage, with 80% saying they struggled to fill cyber security roles.
Dr Kevin P. Stenson, chief executive of The Smallpeice Trust, said: “It is clear that the UK has insufficient numbers of cyber security experts to meet demand. As technology continues to evolve, that need will only intensify. The simple fact is we need more students coming through and filling these roles.”