Thales Blog

Apprentices Are Critical To Keeping Critical Infrastructure Safe

March 6, 2017

Earlier this year, it was reported that Britain is worryingly ‘highly vulnerable’ to a powerful cyber-attack. One of the main factors behind statement? A shortage in skilled security staff.

As cyber-criminals become more targeted, and successful, in their efforts to hack organisations across all industries, the number of cyber security job vacancies in Britain has indeed risen by 30 percent between 2014 and 2016. However, candidate numbers are failing to keep pace. In fact, a study from the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education revealed that over 50 percent of UK businesses have insufficient cyber security workers to handle cyber-attacks. What’s more, a recent Global Information Security Workforce Study estimated that, by 2022, there will be a global cyber security skills shortage of 1.8 million.

These figures become even more worrying when you consider that the number of national cyber security incidents have doubled over the past two years.

As such, this skills gap is increasingly putting British businesses and the UK’s critical national infrastructure at risk. Just last year, for example, Christopher Frei, director general at the World Energy Council, told City AM that the UK was one of several countries facing a growing threat of a potentially devastating attack against its energy infrastructure. Cyber-attackers successfully derailing critical infrastructure isn’t the stuff of fiction any more. Today, this threat is real - and growing. What’s worse, any increase in such attacks will lead to an inevitable escalation in disruption as 'opportunistic' hackers could also jump on the bandwagon.

It’s, therefore, crucial that action is being taken to ensure the next generation are properly trained with the necessary cyber skills to fight back against the increasing threat cyber-criminals pose.

Training the next generation

This week marks the 10th National Apprenticeship Week – a time for organisations and apprentices across the UK to come together to not only celebrate a decade of successful apprenticeships but also to encourage even more people to get involved and learn new, life changing skills.

At Thales, we are passionate about developing talent in the cyber security industry. In 2016 alone, we hired approximately 400 cyber security experts from across the world, and we are also proud to work with the National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) programme, CyberFirst, which aims to nurture cyber security talent and develop the skills they need to help protect the UK from online attacks.

This National Apprenticeship Week, we want to inspire talented individuals in education to think about cyber security as a potential career path. Apprenticeship schemes play a vital role in the future development of young people, and, in the case of cyber security, the bolstering of the UK’s defences. They offer young people training, enhanced job prospects and the unique opportunity to develop the skills needed to protect the country from the growing number of threats.

Now is the time for organisations and government to work together to develop the next generation of cyber security talent with the aim of defending critical national infrastructure and ensuring cyber defences are as robust and secure as they possibly can be.