Cyber College Cymru Puts Wales at the Forefront of Cybersecurity Opportunities

30 November 2023

Partners including Welsh Water, Bridewell, Admiral and Thales have come together to support an innovative skills programme that is helping address the cybersecurity skills gap.

Established in 2019, Cyber College Cymru is an innovative, extracurricular cyber skills programme that aims to prepare a workforce ready to meet the challenges of the future. The programme has been delivered through colleges in South-East Wales including, Bridgend College, Coleg Gwent and The College, Merthyr Tydfil.

In a showcase event held this week, Cyber College Cymru celebrated its achievements so far supporting 140 students each year. And with having some of Wales’ largest employers already on board, the call is for more colleges and industry partners to join the growing initiative in Wales.

The opportunity to scale is huge, with latest research from the annual Cyber Security Skills in the UK Labour Market Report has found that 50% of all UK businesses have a basic cyber security skills gap. There were 160,035 cyber security job postings in the last year, an increase of 30% on the previous year. 37% of vacancies were reported as hard-to-fill by industry recruiters.

Wales has a flourishing tech ecosystem – according to government figures the nation’s tech sector is worth an estimated £8.5bn to the Welsh economy and it continues to grow. Almost 45,000 people are actively employed within the Digital Economy in Wales, this only underpins the vital role of cybersecurity in protecting this thriving digital ecosystem.

Rob Norris, Chief Technology Officer of Welsh Water and co-founder of Cyber College Cymru said: “Cyber resilience is a key strategic priority for our nation, our economy, and our communities and the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals has never been higher. This will only continue to grow, and we want to increase accessibility to this unique opportunity for young people in Wales to fall in love with the profession. We are now in our 4th year, training over 100 students per year, with the support of industry. We have created an ecosystem within Wales that is working together and adapting at pace to enhance the learning journey for students.”

Nick Smith MP said: “It’s fantastic to be able to celebrate the success of Cyber College Cymru here today. I wanted to help provide a world-class cyber course for young people on their doorsteps right here in Wales, and now, this is exactly what we have. I believe that Cyber College Cymru can draw on young people from our industrial towns across Wales to give them the necessary skills for the jobs of the future and provide our digital industries with the homegrown talent they need.”

Mike Halliday, of Cyber College Cymru said: “Cyber College Cymru now trains students supported by partners in developing and accelerating their cyber security skills for them to be ready for the world of work and to expand the nation’s cyber security skills. The Showcase Day engaged with partners from various industry sectors to join the programme and make a difference, whilst celebrating all that the programme has achieved so far.”

Scott Nicholson, Co-CEO of Bridewell added: “It was a great day on Friday, seeing the previous students across colleges in Wales, who are now working in industry and the current students with a great future ahead of them. We at Bridewell are proud and humbled to be a part of this and would encourage other organisations to do the same.”

Leanne Connor, Business Manager, Thales Wales said: "Cyber College Cymru is a key step for young people in the pathway from our schools programme to higher education and industry. We’re proud to be one of the founder companies. Working with colleges to deliver course sessions gives our staff a tremendous development opportunity. It’s a long-term investment in a new generation of tech talent and we’re delighted already with the young people who’ve come from the programme to join our team as apprentices."