CIISec gains funding to expand UK’s only CyberEPQ Programme

CIISec are embarking on the next phase of the CyberEPQ programme
The Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has funded CIISec CyberEPQ Programme, supporting up to 400 students

When we talk about cyber security, many of us will automatically think of coding, hacking, or cyberattacks, but in reality, cyber security is so much more. As an industry, the cyber security domain has much more of a people focus than many realise, exploring and understanding the actions that a cybercriminal wants us to take, in order to spot the signs of an attack and prevent it from happening. 

One prevailing issue within the cyber security industry is the lack of diversity. This issue underscores the unexplored potential that remains untapped, and yet by embracing diversity, it could yield substantial benefits, not only for the industry, but for society at large.

Broadening the talent pool in cyber security

Today it has been announced that The Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) has been successful in securing funding from the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to support students for the 2023-24 CyberEPQ Programme - the UK’s first and only Extended Project Qualification in cyber security. 

The funding comes as part of the Government’s £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy, which is designed to protect and promote the UK online, as well as develop cyber skills. This follows a successful pilot with 2022-23 cohort, which focused on sixth form students across 10 combined mayoral authorities in England. The students involved all achieved grades that enabled them to qualify for CIISec membership, with 68% obtaining A* to B grades.

In the upcoming year, CIISec plans to admit a minimum of 400 students, a number three times higher than that of the previous academic year of 2022-23, with plans for ongoing growth. CIISec, in collaboration with the UK Government, is committed to attracting greater diversity within the cyber security sector. This includes initiatives such as enrolling students from underprivileged school districts to broaden the talent pool.

The support from DSIT, coupled with contributions from CIISec's corporate collaborators, will play a pivotal role in this endeavour. In 2022-23, CIISec has already expanded the participation of state schools in the CyberEPQ by 56%, complementing government initiatives such Cyber Explorers and the Upskill in Cyber programme.

CEO of CIISec, Amanda Finch, commented: “We’re excited to embark on this next phase of the CyberEPQ programme, which promises to play a pivotal role in attracting and nurturing diverse talent in the cyber security industry. The continued support from DSIT and the dedication of our partners and members will be instrumental in achieving these goals.”

Andy Pape, Head of Computer Science at Thomas Tallis School, said: "In our first year of running the CyberEPQ, we have already seen how beneficial the course has been to our students. Students chose a wide variety of essay topics that truly engaged their inquisitiveness. Some of their presentations felt like we were sat in training sessions with cyber security experts. Many are now planning a future in cyber security. I can't wait to see how our next cohort develop over the course." 

Helping young people pursue exciting careers in the cyber industry

In order to retain its strong connections with schools, encourage active engagement, and guarantee high achievement rates, CIISec has employed a specialised School Liaison Coordinator. This role will oversee and provide assistance to both educators and students throughout the entirety of the programme. Additionally, CIISec has undertaken a comprehensive programme evaluation and is currently in the process of enhancing the curriculum to incorporate the latest developments in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, and Blockchain.

Supported by CIISec’s own skills framework, the CyberEPQ qualification provides training in topics across the cyber security domain, ranging from the historical aspects of computing and cryptography, to digital forensics and the human element in cyber security. 

Furthermore, students will gain access to participate in CIISec's development programme, tailored to assist individuals at every phase of their professional journey, spanning from apprenticeships to executive roles. Ultimately, graduates can become integral contributors to the expanding UK cyber security sector, a thriving industry currently valued at £10.5 billion, employing a workforce of 58,000 professionals.

Cyber Minister Viscount Camrose said: “We’re committed to breaking down barriers and helping young people pursue exciting careers in the UK’s cyber industry. The sector is growing at pace, and so is the demand for skills – which is why we’re investing in a new and diverse generation of cyber security experts, and we’re pleased to be supporting CIISec to engage even more talented students this year.”


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