GCHQ Launches New Cybersecurity Comp for Teen Girls

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A new competition has been launched by GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) designed to encourage more teenage girls to consider a career in cybersecurity.

The CyberFirst Girls Competition will test the skills of 13 to 15-year-olds from across the UK, who’ll be asked to enter in teams of four, alongside a teacher to act as guardian and mentor.

The top 10 teams will be entered into a national final in London in March.

Prizes will be awarded to individual winners and their school will also be handed IT equipment to the value of £1000.

“I work alongside some truly brilliant women who help protect the UK from all manner of online threats,” said GCHQ director, Robert Hannigan, in a statement.

“The CyberFirst Girls Competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of this exciting world and provides a great opportunity to use new skills. My advice to all potential applicants would be enjoy the experience and I look forward to meeting some of you.”

CyberFirst is a relatively new initiative designed to equip secondary school-aged students with the tools and skills needed to stay safe online and open their eyes to a possible career in the industry.

Next month, it will launch a new program comprising free activity days and residential courses from Year 8 through to Year 13. There’ll also be the opportunity to apply for a CyberFirst Student Bursary of £4000 per year to study at university undergraduate level.

The UK certainly needs fresh blood.

This week, new data from global jobs site Indeed revealed that the UK has the second largest industry skills shortage in the world.

The number of cybersecurity job searches in the country amounted to just 31.6% of industry roles advertised. In comparison, the figure was 68.1% in Canada and 66.7% in the US.

Pre-registration for the CyberFirst Girls Competition has already opened and full registration will begin on 13 February.

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