August 2021 marked the official launch of the Gibraltar Digital Skill Academy, an institute set up to diversify from fixed curricula and offer a wide variety of different skills and qualifications to students already in full-time education, as well as the wider local community where tech skills are in high demand. Open to everyone, this brand new initiative will deliver courses by the likes of CISCO and CompTIA to equip current and future talent with the skills they need to thrive.
Led by Academy Trustee Stewart Harrison who is also a teacher at Bayside School Gibraltar, Stewart explains: “It’s no secret that there’s a skills gap in technology. There are lots of tech companies in Gibraltar that all agree; from IT technicians to Cyber Security experts, roles exist, but the skills needed to fill them aren’t there.” Addressing this gap is one of the main aims of the foundation, a non-profit initiative that will benefit from continual reinvestment of funds into supporting and upskilling the community.
And it became more evident than ever during the Covid19 pandemic lockdown that not only is there a clear gap between the opportunities available in the tech sector and existing skill sets, this is often down to simply not having access to the technology and devices that are essential for this kind of education. Throughout the last 18 months, the foundation has already been able to donate a number of devices to ensure children could access their online learning and complete their school work when movement restrictions were particularly challenging.
Physics teacher at the Bayside School Gibraltar, Stewart Harrison, has successfully led countless teams through the CyberCenturion competition since 2014, reaching the National Finals year on year and collecting medals and trophies in recognition of the up and coming cyber security talent representing Gibraltar.
Participation in the CyberCenturion programme will now continue through the Digital Skills Academy – a fantastic reflection of how the Gibraltar cohort has evolved from just seven students taking part to a highly successful cyber security club. Winning the competition over the years has been a bonus, but the real reward for Mr Harrison is seeing his students go on to launch their careers with good jobs in technology sectors.
Take a look at our CyberCenturion Success in Gibraltar case study.
Plugging the cyber security and digital skills gap
Cyber security is central to the foundation’s mission, with multiple course categories dedicated to educating students and driving fresh talent into the industry including Code Clubs for ages 3.13, CyberCenturion and Google IT Security certifications. Meanwhile, those already in industry as well as anyone keen to make a change or simply gain a new certification can take advantage of project management courses and improve their Microsoft Office skills – there are no limits to who and how the foundation can support.
Stewart Harrison commented: “If it wasn’t for the children who have responded so well to the opportunities made available to them by the cyber security club, all this wouldn’t be happening. It’s for the kids – we’re grateful for their enthusiasm, and the future is very bright for them.”
Dr Robert Nowill, Chairman, Cyber Security Challenge UK commented: “We are delighted to be in a position to support Stewart’s hard work and dedication to launch the Digital Skills Academy in Gibraltar. We’ve been lucky enough to call the students who represent the up and coming talent on the Rock part of the Challenge community over the years and will always be especially proud of their success. Stay tuned as we progress with plans to collaborate further to expand the portfolio of opportunities, activities and training courses available through this brand new online platform.”
Learn more: https://www.digitalacademy.gi/