GCHQ establishes all-female cyber training classes

The UK’s intelligence service has announced plans to set up all-female classes in cyber-skills as part of an attempt to recruit a wider range of online security experts.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has said that 90 per cent of the cyber skills workforce is currently male, not just in the UK, but worldwide. And amid warnings of serious skills shortages, the security services are worried about missing female recruits.

Seeking to ‘address the imbalance’, the NCSC says that there will be 600 free places on all-female CyberFirst Defenders courses in April and May this year, run as a mix of residential and non-residential training events. The intention of the programme is to make cyber-skills lessons more open to teenage girls, in a field which has been accused of having a very male image.

Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for Skills and Growth, said: “Over the last two years an amazing 12,500 young girls have tackled our CyberFirst Girls competition. The third edition will be bigger and better than ever, and we hope a new set of entrants are queuing up to take the challenge. Women are still only a small proportion of the global cyber work-force and engaging with and inspiring the next generation is key to addressing the current cyber skills gap. Good luck to those taking part – your challenge awaits!”

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