“Employers need to cast fresh eyes over those areas of the UK which have struggled economically, as that is where there are significant opportunities for developing future cyber talent.”

Cyber Security Challenge is always looking for the next pool of untapped talent to encourage to take up careers in the industry, and we believe that there are vast amounts of previously unreached talent in regions of the UK which have historically struggled with economic deprivation. Employers need to cast fresh eyes over these regions in order to develop their future cyber talent.

Emerging regional tech hubs

Looking at the areas which government agencies identify as having multiple indices of deprivation, the Cyber Security Challenge team noticed something interesting. Many of these areas map to areas identified as having higher than average employment in technology and emerging tech hubs. And this is not a coincidence. These areas are more affordable for start-ups to establish themselves, often attract government investment for new business and innovation, and are increasingly co-located with forward-thinking further education establishments.

Growth in UK regions: Dundee

A great example of this cooperation between government, education and business in order to promote employment opportunity is in the Tay Cities region, which has Dundee at its heart and some of the most economically-deprived areas in Scotland.

The Government recently invested £11m in order to develop a Cyber Security Centre of Excellence and an additional £15m is being invested to establish the UK’s first Forensic Science Research Centre: an Innovation Cluster Development alongside the University of Abertay’s Cyber Quarter, and build a world-leading vibrant culture of Innovation, Communication and Economy at the University of Dundee.

Growth in UK regions: Bournemouth

Bournemouth is another example of an area which struggles with high levels of deprivation. Banking and technology giant, JP Morgan, originally established a technology and operations hub in the area in 1986. It has now grown from 650 staff to some 4000 employees, leveraging “the skills of the local workforce in the Dorset region” as well as the rest of the UK. In addition, Bournemouth University has a burgeoning cyber security discipline that turns out high quality graduates. We are thrilled to call Sophia McCall a Challenge Masterclass alumni – Sophia graduated in Cyber Security Management with a first class honours degree from Bournemouth University in 2020, continues to thrive as a Junior Security Consultant at NCC Group, and recently collected the award for best newcomer blog of the year with her Security Queens colleagues.

New jobs for local talent

The result of creating emerging technology hubs in these regions is that there are new jobs for local talent, meaning people can find work without having to leave their hometowns.

“Commercially, the decision to offshore cyber security makes less and less sense as the limited supply of talent exerts upward pressure on resource costs for everyone. The UK is providing a high quality service outside the primary UK cities where the cost of living allows for keen commercial pricing,” says David McClure, recently retired head of Cyber Security for BT who sits on the Scottish Cyber Security Leaders Board. “In addition, businesses who take their security seriously want to work with someone they can develop a relationship with, and that is often easiest with someone local.”

Cyber security: opportunities for all

Regional areas offer the same attractive salaries alongside a more accessible property market, meaning careers in cyber security offer local populations the opportunity to pursue rewarding pathways without being forced to relocate to a larger city. However, investment in the younger generation as they progress through the education system is fundamental in ensuring they are the ones who can benefit directly from unrestricted access to these local opportunities.

We engage with young people early in their journey with our Schools Programme, signposting routes to careers in cyber security by guiding them towards the Cyber First and Cyber Discovery programmes, as well as Northrop Grumman’s CyberCenturion competition. The results emerging from these programmes represent game-changers for employers and candidates alike, only serving to propel us further on our mission to encourage fresh talent in the cyber security pipeline.