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Fewer Comp Sci school students leading to a wider cyber skills gap

Cyber sector news

09:00 Thursday, 25 March 2021

UK Cyber Security Council

The cyber security skills gap is being worsened by a lack of school students studying computer science, according to a new report by WorldSkills UK, a charity that focuses on apprenticeships and technical education.

The report, entitled “Disconnected: Exploring the digital skills gap”, cites a 2020 student count for GCSE Information and Communications Technology (ICT) of 88,000, which is a 40.1 per cent drop from a total of 147,000 in 2015. The report’s authors express the belief that student numbers have dropped because the UK Government has been making a concerted effort to phase out the ICT GSCE – which is classed by employers as having little value – in favour of the more rigorous (and hence difficult) Computer Science GCSE.

The push toward a harder course has brought numbers down – which will have an inevitable knock-on for the cyber security industry as there will be fewer computing-qualified school-leavers heading into the market either immediately or via university.

The report goes on to tell of a further concern that the skills that do exist are becoming out of date before they can be used. One unnamed training provider says that: “We’ve already got employers with the original cyber apprenticeships that are telling us they’re out of date because the technology has moved on in three years”.