“This is an important development for our Cyber Academy workshops” said James Gray, managing director for Cyber, Space and Training at Raytheon UK. “The workshops have always been aimed at those with no previous experience of security-related tasks and concepts, and with this extension for military veterans we can provide them with a glimpse of what it is like to work on the frontline with Raytheon UK’s cyber team, where our innovation protects against the most complex threats and vulnerabilities.”
In 2022, research carried out on behalf of the UK Government into cybersecurity skills in the labour market found that 51% of all private sector businesses identified a basic technical cyber skills gap, while 33% of businesses have a more advanced technical skills gap. The findings also suggested a net annual shortfall of around 14,100 individuals in the cyber security workforce in 2021.
To help address these gaps and strengthen the UK’s cyber capabilities, Raytheon UK has since 2018 run annual Cyber Academy workshop. The workshops, delivered in collaboration with the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas in San Antonio, were primarily delivered to university students and are designed to inspire and educate the next generation of cybersecurity specialists, giving individuals experience in techniques and methods to find and address vulnerabilities.
This year, the workshops will have 50 fully funded places reserved exclusively for former military service personnel.
“We are particularly proud to offer these free cyber training opportunities to veterans as they transition to the next stage of their lives,” added Gray. “With the support of charities like the Career Transition Partnership, Royal Air Forces Association, and SSAFA, the armed forces charity, we hope to leverage the unique skills and experiences of veterans in the vitally important area of cybersecurity.”
To complete the course and receive their certificates, veterans will be given an exercise in which they are tasked with securing a target system using the knowledge that they gain throughout the workshops. These types of skills, according to lecturer Dwayne Williams from the University of Texas, will put them in good stead for a future career in cyber.
“Technical workshops cover topics and hands-on skills that are not often addressed in a traditional academic courses,” said Williams. “Workshops like these absolutely help veterans prepare for careers in information technology and cybersecurity.”
In 2021, over 125 attendees embarked on their cybersecurity journeys by joining the workshops. Participants came from a range of different institutions and organisations across the UK including the University of Gloucestershire, the University of Lincoln, Lancaster University, the Naval charity the White Ensign Association and members of We Are Tech Women.
“As the Internet of Things expands and people increase their reliance on technology, there are more weaknesses that can be exploited by bad people,” said University of Gloucestershire student Tom, who took part in the 2021 workshops. “Without good people trying to protect cyberspace, the bad guys can go from exploiting a home network to attacking whole governments.”
For students like Tom, who learned about the 2021 Cyber Academy workshops through his university careers newsletter, the chance to join the fight against cybercriminals was an opportunity too good to turn down.
“I really enjoyed the breadth of the workshops, and it covered tools that were only briefly mentioned in my university course,” he said. “I feel that my knowledge of Powershell, Wireshark and the Windows security options has increased, and I would feel confident in being able to implement some of what I have learnt in a commercial setting.”
The virtual nature of the courses also allowed students, like Lindsay, to participate while working day jobs.
“I had wanted to learn more about cybersecurity for a while, particularly since COVID and working from home,” she said. “Even though I am reasonably good with IT…being offered free tuition like this was an opportunity that could not be missed so that I could gain a more in-depth understanding.”
To support the continuation of their cybersecurity journeys, the veterans that successfully complete this year’s workshops will be invited to a meeting hosted by the Raytheon UK team to hear first-hand what it is like to work in the cybersecurity sector and what a career at Raytheon UK looks like. It is hoped that these types of engagements will encourage the cyber students of today to be Raytheon UK’s cybersecurity experts protecting us from the cyber criminals of tomorrow.
“We collaborate with universities to support the development of advanced cyber skills in the UK because its one of the best ways of getting people into the sector” said Gray. “In a fast-changing world, it is vital that cyber knowledge is taught throughout the education system, and we are here to inspire the next generation of cyber leaders.”