LEADING companies and two Welsh colleges have come together to pilot a new initiative designed to create new routes into tech careers for a new generation of digital learners.
Cyber College Cymru is an initiative offering students hundreds of hours of industry input and a fresh curriculum developed with the colleges and the University of South Wales under the Strategic Insight Programme funded by HEFCW.
If successful, the programme can be rolled out across Wales.
Two cohorts of 20 students will begin their studies in September at Bridgend College and Coleg Gwent’s Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone campus, situated at Ebbw Vale.
Their studies will lead to a BTEC Extended Diploma, the recognised equivalent of three
The industry partners, Admiral, Fujitsu and Thales, have been involved in shaping the curriculum and will collectively provide more than one thousand hours of input in the first year of the course, including mentoring, guest lectures, work placements and industry experience for the students selected for Cyber College Cymru.
Speaking to teachers and students at an event in the National Digital Exploitation Centre [NDEC] in Ebbw Vale, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “We’re always looking for ways to work with employers to get flexible, relevant learning.
“Cyber is about much more than staying safe online, and touches every part of our daily lives.
“If we can give Welsh teenagers a new route to study cyber at higher education or go straight into the industry, we’ll be giving them a real advantage in a major and growing industry.”
Steve Cottrell, Group Chief Information Security Officer of Admiral, chairs the Cyber College working group and said: “The Cyber College Cymru initiative is about industry partners coming together to work with our local colleges and develop something new and relevant for the skills needs we have, now and in the future.
“We all have a shared interest in growing our own talent: both getting Welsh teenagers to consider a career in cyber, and giving them the education and experience they need to meet that ambition. TCyber College Cymru is a great innovation driven by what we need in the world of industry and technology.”
Dr Alyson Thomas, Director of Policy and Funding in HEFCW, said: “We have been pleased to be able to fund the University of South Wales to really get to understand the needs of employers and industry to help set curriculum to deliver excellent digital skills. Matching employers with further and higher education institutions has been crucial in promoting a shared understanding of the digital needs of south east Wales. It is good to see the partners building on the support we provided as they construct a model for delivering a new curriculum in cyber and pathways for learners from level three and beyond.”