Digital Upskilling: Closing the Cyber Skills Gaps

Recent events have exposed the digital divide and highlighted the importance of training people for the jobs of the future.

Despite the challenges currently facing businesses across the U.K., Manchester’s tech sector continues to adapt and grow, bringing opportunities to other businesses and residents in the region.

There are almost 8,000 digital and creative businesses in Greater Manchester, employing more than 82,300 people. Greater Manchester is already home to the largest digital cluster outside London, generating £4.1bn of economic growth annually.

These businesses could be the catalyst for a digitally-inspired economic recovery, but in order to bring the people of the North West along for the ride, there must be a step change. Simply stated, too many people are not able to access the rewarding opportunities available in this sector because they lack the skills.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 11 million people (22% of the U.K. population) who do not know how to use the internet effectively. Further, the opportunities over the next decade will increasingly require more digital know-how.

Raytheon Professional Services (RPS), in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, are empowering and enabling people to learn digital skills to train for the jobs of tomorrow through our Cyber Academy. Through a combination of virtual training and in-person instruction, this retraining programme provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge to secure Cyber Security related employment.

This initiative aims to help tackle the digital skills gap across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, and support the local economy by building on the key digital skills requirements that have been identified by employers. This programme delivers real benefit for employees, too; academic research shows that positions that require digital skills can expect to earn a 3% to 10% higher wage. That’s equivalent to a £376 increase in annual net earnings per trained individual.

The courses will create inclusive opportunities for groups of people with limited access to digital opportunities, including neurodiverse candidates, armed forces personnel transitioning to civilian roles, as well as upskilling existing IT practitioners. And with only 15% of roles in the cyber industry held by women in the UK, organisers are especially keen to encourage female applicants into the programme.

The diverse student population provides yet another benefit to the hiring organisations; a broader range of employee experiences and perspectives from which to increase creativity and drive innovation, as summarised in the following Cyber Academy student testimonials.

Janet from Oldham is one of several female participants in this year’s course. She decided to enrol in the programme after her job was made redundant due to the pandemic. “I lost (my) job, and all of the processes of getting into employment delayed,” she said. She is taking advantage of the down time to upskill in digital. “It will be nice to learn how to secure systems and help the community. In cybersecurity the activities involved are varied so I feel working as a cyber security professional every day will be different.”

Stu, from Failsworth, will be transitioning from the army to civilian life. He’s hoping that through his training at the Cyber Academy he will be able to find employment in Manchester’s booming digital industry. “I am hoping to gain the foundational skills and certification required of a cyber security engineer. I am enjoying building on my varied knowledge of each of the subjects touched on so far,” he said.

Georgia, who worked in the tourism industry in Greece, saw the current situation as the catalyst for a career change. “Computer Science was always a hobby,” she said, “the situation with COVID-19 was an opportunity for me to improve my skills in something that I love”.

Greater Manchester is quickly becoming one of Europe’s largest digital hubs; creating a growing demand for digital roles that will help support the local economy.

The GMCA hopes RPS’ Cyber Academy will support accessible routes into rewarding, long-term careers in cybersecurity and software development for Greater Manchester residents like Georgia, Stu and Janet, helping them to future-proof their careers in digital.

Reach Out To RPS

To learn how Raytheon Professional Services’ cyber training experts can help you address your organization’s needs, please Contact Us or visit our website at RPS.com.

Do you have lessons learned that you’d like to share? Start a conversation in the comments below or connect with us on LinkedIn, or at @RaytheonRPS using hashtags, #Cyber, #Digitober, #learning, and #training.