Google has launched a new cyber security training and certification scheme – partnering with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the process – designed to upskill potential new cyber professionals to help secure the UK’s vast community of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Google cited recent research from pollsters Kantar, which found that 43% of SMEs had been unable to hire cyber support due to a shortage of specialists or difficulty in attracting and retaining them. The period from January 2022 to January 2023 showed a 59% increase in the number of open cyber roles, with almost 70,000 unique jobs advertised online in that timeframe.
Designed by the same ethical hackers featured in the Hacking Google web series, the Cybersecurity Career Certificate has been tailor-made to address the cyber skills gap among UK SMEs by offering a cheap and accessible way for people to gain the entry-level skills that can help fill the most critical cyber security roles.
Google’s course can be completed online, and it claims it should take the average person about six months of part-time study to achieve certification. Besides covering the basics of cyber security, it will also provide hands-on experience with Python and Linux, and various security programs, including security information and event management (SIEM) tools.
“The UK’s digital skills gap, and the lack of cyber security experts specifically, threatens to hinder future progress. Both the lack of digital skills and cyber security concerns are listed as SMEs’ top digitalisation barriers,” said Debbie Weinstein, vice-president and managing director of Google UK and Ireland.
“This is why we’re launching our new Google Cybersecurity Career Certificate to provide Brits with the job-ready skills needed to fill the roles in this high-growth sector, and to provide more businesses with the expertise needed to safeguard future economic growth.”
Sarah Lyons, NCSC
The partnership with the NCSC will also see SMEs offered free online business security training for business owners themselves.
This is an hour-long course that can be completed online or at one of Google’s Digital Garage events. It will include information on enhanced credential security, the importance of keeping software and systems updated, managing who has access to what data and keeping it backed up, and staff training and culture building.
Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for economy and society, said: “Cyber criminals represent a challenge for all organisations, but we know that they are increasingly viewing small businesses as attractive targets. Successful attacks can be devastating for a business, causing huge levels of disruption to operations, and in the worst-case scenarios shutting them down completely.
“I strongly encourage small business owners to explore this new training programme – and the NCSC’s other resources – to boost their defences and keep cyber criminals locked out of their business.”
At the same time, Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, is today launching a Cybersecurity Fund, designed to help diversify the pipeline of cyber talent across Europe. This will include $1m worth of funding for INCO and Women4Cyber to help women from less well-off socioeconomic backgrounds access security training and support such as mentorship, peer networking and job interview prep.