The government-backed Cyber-Retraining Academy has chosen its first cohort of 55 talented amateurs following a nationwide search.
The students have begun an intensive 10 week course to learn in-demand cyber-skills as part of a government drive to help businesses defend themselves against the growing cyber-threat.
The students will start by learning computing and security fundamentals, which will be followed by more technical subjects, such as learning hacking tools and techniques.
The course is a hands-on one, and will include real-world scenarios such as how to respond to a virus outbreak, study the ‘psychology' of hackers, build a watertight business network and learn how to help firms tackle the most common threats.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “I congratulate all the students selected following an extremely competitive application process and encourage them to make the most of this fantastic opportunity. They will bring a diverse range of skills and experiences from different walks of life to the fight against cyber-threats and attacks.”
The course will be taught by prominent security practitioners from SANS and other leading industry practitioners.
Employers will be able to track their progress through an online portal and prospective employers will have the opportunity to recruit students within ten weeks at two upcoming recruitment fairs.
The candidates were selected from around 4000 applications from across the country and come from diverse backgrounds. Roughly half are from non-IT backgrounds, those in this cohort for example, include a former bartender, a psychiatrist and a journalist.
To get where they are, all candidates went through a rigorous six-stage selection process, starting with a pre-qualification assessment, then an application form, an aptitude assessment, a telephone interview and pre-qualification, and, finally, a face-to-face interview.
The pilot course is funded by the Government as part of the National Cyber Security Strategy and was created in response to growing cyber-threats to British businesses and increasing industry demand for cyber-security professionals.
Stephen Jones, UK managing director of the SANS Institute said: “We are pleased to see students from a wide range of backgrounds, not just traditional IT roles. The cyber-security profession requires a wide range of skills and, as this selection process has shown, there are budding security experts not just in the IT sector, but outside of it too.”