NCA to Recruit 400 Additional Cybersecurity Crime Fighters

"As an NCA officer, successful recruits will join a team of more than 4,000 specially trained officers working to cut serious and organised crime – from smashing multi-million pound, cross border criminal networks and gangs and cracking intricate global cyber crime, to tracking down child sex abusers in the hidden web and uncovering some of the most complex international fraud," said the NCA announcement.

It is a tall order given the well-documented security skill shortage not merely in the UK but around the world. Introducing the(ISC)² Global Information Security Workforce Studyearlier this year, John Colley told Infosecurity, "We’re caught in a Catch 22 problem,” he said. “Companies want to employ experienced staff, but without the employment, people can’t get the experience.”

It is made worse, he added, because "the big organizations, particularly financial services and those that have a lot of money, will actually cherry pick and create inflated salaries – so they’ll solve their own problem by paying more."

Once a security professional has both experience and recognized qualifications, then that person can command a highly paid position. A quick glance through any situations vacant listing shows positions being advertised at an annual salary of anything between £30,000 and £100,000. The NCA, of course, cannot match such salaries, and is offering a starting salary of £22,407 rising to £24,717 after two years' training.

The need to recruit high-quality talent from a very small pool with relatively small benefits is forcing the NCA to approach the problem differently. Firstly it is stressing the 'excitement' of working within law enforcement. It quotes Nick S, an exisiting technical officer within the cyber unit, who suggests "those with 'ambition, a thirst for knowledge and an inquisitive mind' should consider a career in the NCA... Each day brings a new challenge and we're pushing the boundaries of law enforcement capability," he said.

Then it is lowering the entry requirements. The vacancies are open to candidates over 18 years old – and the agency is keen to stress that it is looking for ambition and aptitude in the area of work, rather than qualifications. “This trainee program," explained the NCA’s Deputy Director General, Phil Gormley, "shows that we are opening the NCA up to new people and new ideas, diversifying our workforce and modernizing the workplace – while at the same time transferring expertise gained through years of experience.”

It is then, not merely offering a position in cybercrime fighting, but offering to train youngsters who can show potential without necessarily having the right qualifications. “I want roles at the NCA to be the career of choice for people wanting a future in law enforcement. The agency will be vastly different to those that came before it and we need to build our crime-fighting capacity and capability," said Gormley.

Job applications will be accepted online via www.ncacareers.com, starting on 1 November, and will cease as soon as 8000 applications are registered. This will be reduced, via a process of questionnaires and online assessments to around 1000 applicants. These will then be invited to an assessment center during the first two weeks of December, before up to 400 applicants are chosen.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?