How blended learning apprenticeships are solving the cyber skills crisis

The ongoing shortage of cyber skills in the UK will reach crisis proportions in the next few years unless trends are reversed. The Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS) conducted by the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education and (ISC)² predicts that by 2022 there will be 350k more cyber security jobs than available practitioners.

While all STEM skills shortages are a matter for concern, cyber skills in particular have been thrown into sharp focus in recent years thanks to the increasing demand for cyber security personnel. The growing number of high-profile data breaches, as well as regulation such as the EU GDPR, has served to put cybersecurity at the top of the corporate agenda and generate more demand for practitioners.

While there have been efforts to increase the supply of cyber practitioners to meet the steadily mounting demand, the traditional approach to learning means that progress has largely been slow and stilted. The steady increase in university fees has been detrimental to the already low level of students in STEM fields.

Even after completing a three- or four-year cybersecurity degree course, newly graduated aspiring practitioners will have little trouble finding a starting job but will likely find they still have much to learn before they can become an effective member of a security team. Organisations must also struggle with a revolving door of employees as they are constantly tempted by competitive offers from other firms.

With the traditional cybersecurity employment route struggling under the strain, it’s time to consider how the blended learning approach delivered by Raytheon Professional Service’s Cybersecurity Apprenticeships can deliver the skilled and qualified practitioners organisations need.

On the job learning

One of the most powerful advantages of a cybersecurity apprenticeship is the opportunity for candidates to immediately start learning on the job. This is especially important in a field like cybersecurity, where the ability to hone skills and experience in a real corporate network environment is often the best way for practitioners to grow and improve.

RPS’s cybersecurity apprenticeships create a full-time paid job role for each candidate. Alongside accelerating the learning process, this means the employer also benefits from a boost in their security personnel that will allow more senior staff to focus on higher end work. It also offers a significant advantage to the apprentices as they will be earning while they learn, rather than racking up debt at university.

Raytheon’s Apprentice Development Coaches will visit the employer to ensure that all apprentices are learning and gaining the experience they need. This will help to ensure each candidate can develop towards gaining their full qualification at the end of the two-year course.

Off the job learning

Alongside the hands-on practical learning afforded by the workplace, apprentices will also be provided with formal learning away from the work environment. This is an essential part of the process, as there is still a great deal of theory and other skills that are essential to cybersecurity roles.

Candidates will receive formal teaching in a classroom-type setting over the span of their two-year course. The formal teaching is spread out so that it can be completed without disrupting the apprentice’s duties as a full-time employee.

The majority of guided learning is also geared around the candidate’s role in the workplace, and in most cases, they will be able to return to work and immediately make use of the new skills and theory they have developed.

Ensuring quality success

As our apprentices progress and improve their knowledge, skills and confidence, they will also regularly undertake assessments, projects and coursework, as they would in any other academic setting. Successfully completing these assignments is a basic requirement of a BCS-accredited apprenticeship and will count as part of the End Point Assessment.

Raytheon’s blended learning approach has a powerful track record of success in delivering qualified apprentices. According to the official statistics recorded by the Education Skills Funding Agency, from 2013-16, our IT and digital learning courses delivered an average success rate of 94 percent, with our most recent courses delivering an 88 percent success rate after expanding to other sectors.

In the current cyber climate, a blended learning apprenticeship offers one of the most reliable ways to access skilled, passionate and qualified cybersecurity professionals.

Get in touch with our team now to find out how your organisation can work with Raytheon Professional Services to recruit and develop an apprentice for your business, or talk to us about how you can develop your own in-house programme.