Innovative pilot seeks to open up careers in cybersecurity for 16–25-year-olds who might not previously have had the opportunity

April 29, 2021: The Northern Ireland Department for Economy (DfE) today announces the signing of a pilot initiative with Capita and Immersive Labs aimed at injecting cyber skills into previously under-represented groups to create jobs and defend organisations more effectively. The project seeks to provide free access for 16–25-year-olds, who might not otherwise have been able to afford specialist training or education, to an enterprise-grade cyber skills development platform. 

The pilot initially aims to upskill 1000 people and will also provide them with job opportunities as Incident Responders, Security Architects and Security and Vulnerability Analysts inside large organisations upon completion. 

This will be done using the Immersive Labs platform, a gamified online environment used by large organisations to build specialist cyber skills in everything from software development to incident response teams. It will drop them into a set of browser-based labs portraying real incidents based on the latest threats, teaching everything from understanding attackers to Base64 encoding. 

Candidate recruitment and promotion will start early June, with people being at least 16 years of age, a resident in Northern Ireland and having essential skills or GCSEs in Maths and English.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said, “I am pleased to be able to announce a further milestone in this new pilot project with the signing of the contract by Capita. The project will help participants establish whether they have an aptitude for a role within cyber security, by providing access to free online entry training and aptitude testing. The online platform, due to launch early June, will be available 24 hours a day, meaning users can decide to study at a time that suits them.”

The Minister continued: “Northern Ireland has a growing international reputation in cyber security and the industry has seen significant growth in recent years. Capita have teamed up with Immersive Labs to deliver this online skills development  and access to job vacancies. We have been working closely with industry to promote  the myriad of varied and rewarding careers within the cyber security area and we will ensure candidates who successfully complete training, can apply for the relevant vacancies advertised on the platform.  In addition to training, candidates will also have access to a team of advisors, who can help guide them through the platform from start to finish including signposting them to further career paths and training where required.”

James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, said “It’s great to see the Northern Ireland Government taking such a proactive role in addressing the need for cyber skills, as well as opening up careers to as broad a range of people as possible. Large organisations are not just held back by a shortage of cyber talent, but also a lack of diverse approaches to problems which benefit from a wide range of opinions and backgrounds.”

Mark Roberts, Head of Cyber, Capita Consulting, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Northern Irish Executive and Immersive Labs on this project to grow Northern Ireland’s cyber skills base. We will leverage our experience of running world-class learning solutions and innovative marketing campaigns, in combination with our cybersecurity expertise, to help deliver this project, which we hope will provide significant benefits to local people and the regional economy.”

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April 29, 2021


Immersive Labs