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CYBER


Cyber apprentices are helping to fill the gaps in businesses’ online defences


Joining the fight against the hackers


Growing army of cyber apprentices are working to keep Scotland safe


BY COLIN CARDWELL AND FIONA LAING


Cybercrime is the faceless, in- sidious attack on a hugely valuable yet worryingly vulnerable resource – our data. Research by global consultants McKinsey this year says that even before the global


pandemic, “executive teams faced a challenging and dynamic envi- ronment as they sought to protect their institutions from cyberattack, without degrading their ability to innovate and extract value from technology investments”. And for any company – or


public sector organisation – that 30 | FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2021


is digitising its businesses and au- tomatising its operations without an effective cyber security strat- egy, the risks continue to multiply. Scotland’s national skills


agency, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) reports – through its technology skills and careers portal Digital World – some sober- ing statistics: cybercrime was the second most reported crime in the world last year, with a hack taking place every 39 seconds, and will cost in excess of £6 trillion by the end of 2021, with 43 per cent of cyber-attacks targeting small businesses. It’s less, says Claire Gillespie,


digital technology skills man- ager at SDS, a case of “if” you are hacked but “when”. Which is why the agency highlighted Cyber Se- curity Apprenticeships at Scottish Apprenticeship Week earlier this month, demonstrating how they offer one of the most effective ways of making sure companies and organisations are cyber ready. “We focused on cyber security because of the growing require-


ment in this area and because SMEs are becoming acutely aware of the importance of cyber resil- ience, with apprenticeships a cost- effective way to plug that skills gap for smaller companies,” she says.


For many, the hazards of cyber- crime have been highlighted with many staff now working from home but she adds that even pre-Covid there was a growing demand for young people with the appropriate skills. “However, we also need people


with blended skill sets, with experience in finance, data and healthcare, for example. So we and our partners in educa- tion and government have a big responsibility to develop cyber skills for people coming not only through schools, colleges and universities but also to upskill existing staff.” Tere is a real appetite from


employers regarding the diversity of their staff. “Tey recognise the value of people with different skills and from different back-


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