Thales supports launch of 2017 CyberFirst programme

Thales is proud to support the 2017 launch and continued success of an innovative Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) programme which aims to identify and support talented young people through their education and help transition them into a career in cyber security.

Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office announced at an event in London on February 2nd, that for 2017, the CyberFirst programme will offer a significant increase in the number of bursaries for students, offering a total of 250 places compared to 93 last year.

CyberFirst is a pivotal part of the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme, which includes the formation of the brand new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - a single, central body that manages incidents, threat analysis and sectoral advice.

The CyberFirst programme started in 2015 as a GCHQ student sponsorship scheme for 20 students and has since grown into a highly successful initiative between Government and industry. The scheme intends to have 1,000 CyberFirst students in the system by 2020.

Government and industry working together

As a founding member of the programme, Thales was invited to speak at the event, with Gareth Williams, vice-president of the UK’s cyber security business, giving an overview of the importance of industry support for the scheme. 

Thales has previously supported CyberFirst summer placements in its security business and has committed to the large organisation commitment for the programme, which is to support three bursaries in 2017, and an additional three in 2018 and four in 2019. 

Thales is internationally recognised for its expertise in protecting critical information systems, cyber security and data protection and is the global leader in online banking transaction security, securing the transactions of 19 of the world’s 20 largest banks. 

Other key speakers at the launch included NCSC’s CEO Ciaran Martin; NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Security Skills and Growth Chris Ensor and student and bursary recipient, Ciara Chrispherson.

National Cyber Security Programme

The scheme is a key part of the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme which aims to highlight cyber protection as a career choice for young men and women. The NCSC itself was launched in October 2016 as part of GCHQ and is the UK’s leading authority on cyber security.

Gareth Williams said: “CyberFirst is a fantastic way to inspire talented individuals in education to think about cyber security as a potential career option.
“It’s an excellent example of the collaboration between Government and industry to address this increasingly critical subject which has become core to the prosperity and safety of the UK. Cyber security affects us all.

“This kind of programme prepares the participants for a working career, as well ensuring they are able to deliver real value to the business that much faster. It also helps to bridge the gap between studying for a career and physically starting one.”

Women in Cyber Security

The launch follows the announcement of an additional NCSC CyberFirst Girls competition that seeks to inspire a new generation of young women to consider a career in Cyber Security.

Currently, women only make up 10% of the current cyber security workforce. The CyberFirst competition will see teenage girls aged 13 – 15 years from across the UK pitting their technical, problem solving and creative thinking skills against one another. Further details are available here