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Scottish Armed Forces veterans are being retrained to help address a significant skills gap in the nation’s cyber security workforce.

The new partnership project from Skills Development Scotland, social enterprise SaluteMyJob, Abertay University, IBM and tech start up Skillzminer, has been launched with the aim of filling a business-critical shortage facing employers across the country.

Launched today (Mon Feb 17) as part of Cyber Scotland Week, the pilot will kick off with an eight-week penetration testing pilot course next month, allowing former forces personnel to learn ethical hacking and penetration testing skills at Abertay, as well as through online study and job shadowing. 

It follows a preparatory ‘Introduction to Cyber’ course at the University last week, attended by 30 ex-military participants.

The project’s goal is to add technical cyber security skills to the students’ acquired military training and experience, to help fill some of the 13,000 digital job in Scotland. 

Skills Development Scotland is supporting the pilot, which adds more specialist training to SaluteMyJob’s established and successful Cyber Skillsbuild programme, which is delivered in partnership with IBM and has reskilled more than 350 veterans to date.

Veterans Scotland and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre are also supporting the project.

According to the Scottish Government’s Cyber Resilience: Learning and Skills Action Plan 2018-20, the global cyber security workforce gap is expected to reach 1.8 million professionals by 2022.

Course participant Richard Barratt, a former marine with 45 Commando in Arbroath said: “The support, guidance and advice SaluteMyJob has provided me in supporting my career transition into a cyber role has been excellent and testament to the team's hard work and dedication. In addition, the opportunity and privilege of attending two of their courses has attracted the attention of several high profile organisations in my current search for a new role.”

Claire Gillespie, Digital Technology sector manager for Skills Development Scotland said: “We are delighted to support this dedicated veteran’s reskilling programme, with funding from the Scottish Government. Our latest research shows there are 13,000 job opportunities available every year in Scotland’s digital technology sector, and cyber security in particular is one of the fastest growing areas. This pilot explores new and innovative ways of ensuring we can meet the demand for skilled workers. Military personnel bring a raft of relevant skills ideally suited to cyber roles, and our aim is to build a new pipeline of much needed talent for the tech sector.”

SaluteMyJob Managing Director, Andrew Jackson said: “Service men and women have the knowledge, skills and experience to transition relatively easily into well paid jobs in cyber security. Most think cyber is deeply technical; in fact, generalist military training is ideally suited to roles as security consultants, incident and operations centre managers, as well as more specialist roles such as penetration testing. Alongside employer partners such as IBM, DXC, Stratia Cyber, Claranet, Quorum Cyber and others, we look forward to helping military people realign their military skills to the fast-growing world of cyber security.”

SaluteMyJob Managing Director, Andrew Jackson said: “Service men and women have the knowledge, skills and experience to transition relatively easily into well paid jobs in cyber security. Most think cyber is deeply technical; in fact, generalist military training is ideally suited to roles as security consultants, incident and operations centre managers, as well as more specialist roles such as penetration testing. Alongside employer partners such as IBM, DXC, Stratia Cyber, Claranet, Quorum Cyber and others, we look forward to helping military people realign their military skills to the fast-growing world of cyber security.”

Dr Natalie Coull, Head of the Division of Cyber Security at Abertay University said: “Abertay is a Scottish leader in both cyber security education and widening access to higher education, so this partnership is an ideal fit for the University. The cyber industry is crying out for fresh talent every year and this course will help to address that gap, tapping into our internationally-renowned academic expertise here at Abertay.”