SQA courses create cyber savvy workforce ready to tackle online threats

Entries for an HNC in Cyber Security are up by 50% on 2018-19 figures

support and a common focus on security throughout, allow stu- dents to enter industry with the qualities sought by employers.” To extend the portfolio even

further, and give more opportuni- ties to enter the sector, SQA is also developing a series of Professional Development Awards (PDAs) in Cyber Security at SCQF levels 7, 8, and 9. Te PDAs, which will be available later this year, have been designed for professionals work- ing in the sector to help them develop their skillset, or make the transition into a new career. Alistair Wylie said: “Once the

National Progression Awards helping to ‘widen access’ to career in cyber security

As schools and colleges embrace SQA’s portfolio of Cyber Security courses, employers can look to ad- dress the sector’s skills challenge. Since their launch in 2017, the

Scottish Qualifications Author- ity (SQA) National Progression Awards (NPA) in Cyber Security have introduced school age pupils to a discipline that underpins how individuals, businesses, and society as a whole communicates. Over the past two years, SQA has

rolled out its college-level Higher National Certificate (HNC), and now the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Cyber Security. Tese new awards will open routes into employment within the cyber se- curity sector that were traditional- ly only available to those who had completed a degree in computing.

Alistair Wylie, Head of Qualifica-

tions – Technology, Engineering, and Construction at SQA, said it is easy to see why the whole portfolio has struck a chord with schools, and colleges. He said: “Tey are keen to give young people the best chance to develop and hone valu- able digital skills, in a sector that will only grow in importance.” Wylie said: “Te IT skills gap

is widely known about, but it is perhaps most pressing in cyber security. By collaborating with ac- ademics and industry specialists, including Glasgow Clyde College and the University of Glasgow, SQA has developed courses which will appeal to candidates, but will also equip them with the skills so needed by employers.” Wylie added: “Te HNC and

HND are proven routes into em- ployment. By offering Cyber Secu- rity qualifications at these levels, we are widening access into the sector. Tese vocational qualifica- tions give candidates the opportu- nity to develop valuable practical skills, backed up with the theory, knowledge and wider skills.” Te offering seems to be having an impact. Entries for the HNC


in Cyber Security are up 50% on 2018-19 figures, while there are over 80 students across the coun- try studying for the HND colleges among them Glasgow Clyde Col- lege, and City of Glasgow College.

Joe Harkins, a lecturer at West College Scotland who led the development of the new HND course, said: “Te qualification has been designed to equip students with not only the technical skills required for a job in computing but also the general skills that make them work ready. Topics such as ‘Professionalism and Eth- ics in Cyber Security’, and ‘Work- ing in Cyber Security’ introduce students to the wide range of jobs in computing and the unique challenges that they provide.” Harkins added: “Te course also

describes what it is like to work in industry, and what desirable at- tributes are needed in those roles, such as working under pressure, managing projects, communicat- ing with others, and monitoring and analysing operations. Tese, along with the ‘traditional’ skills in computing such as program- ming, networking, and technical

new PDAs are available, we’ll have opened up routes into employ- ment within the cyber security sector that were only available to university graduates. “At every stage of the develop-

ment process for every qualifi- cation across the portfolio, we worked with the leading voices of the industry in Scotland. Each qualification, from the National Progression Awards in schools, right through to the Professional Development Awards delivered by employers and training providers, have been built to make sure the skills, knowledge, and experienc- es candidates acquire are credible, relevant, and valuable.” “We are meeting our respon-

sibilities to provide schools, col- leges, employers and training pro- viders – and thereby candidates at all levels – with opportunities to succeed within this exciting and growing sector.” l

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