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Hugh Baird College ‘CyberHub’ launched to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts

The first CyberHub ‘Security Operations Centre’ (SOC) in the North-West was launched at Hugh Baird College, Merseyside on the 24th February 2022, to provide talented young people with the advanced digital skills they need to become Cyber Security and Cloud experts.

This pioneering, national initiative is being spearheaded by the charity, The CyberHub Trust, working in partnership with the college and Cyber Security specialists The BIT Group.

The charity is supported by the world’s leading Cloud supplier Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is advised by both the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), of which the Trust is a ‘CyberFirst Associate’.

Hugh Baird College CyberHub Opening

This is the second CyberHub to be launched in the country, with a CyberHub SOC already operational in London and another CyberHub due to open in Birmingham this Spring. There are plans in place to open a network of CyberHub SOCs in FE Colleges & Institutes of Technology (IoTs) across the country in the next few years, to address the huge Cyber & Cloud ‘Skills Gap’ facing the UK. Each CyberHub SOC contains cutting-edge technology, funded by AWS, with workstations, networks, firewalls and proprietary Cyber Security software, as well as visual Cyber Threat Assessment technology. These SOCs then become venues where students can learn and gain practical experience as Cyber Security Threat-hunters, analysts and various other roles in the ‘real world’. Students will work under the guidance and oversight of trained & experienced Cyber Security professionals.

From March, students from the age of 16 will be able to study for cyber-related qualifications, including apprenticeships, through the Hugh Baird College, being trained and working in a real-life, high security environment, helping to prevent genuine cyber-crime and implement cyber-security systems for real clients. Importantly, the CyberHub will be embedded within its local community. It will offer training and workshops to schoolchildren, parents and people looking to re-train and upskill, with a range of partners. Local employers will be able to access Cyber Security services through the Hugh Baird College CyberHub SOC (which is connected virtually to a national SOC and a network of analysts and technicians around the country, thus providing the highest standards of Cyber Security support). This could range from Penetration Testing (when developing new websites, for example), Cyber Essentials accreditation.

Each CyberHub is run by an approved, qualified and experienced specialist, who will also oversee delivery of training and apprenticeships. The BIT Group has been contracted to deliver the first three CyberHub SOCs (Hugh Baird College in Merseyside, Barking & Dagenham College in London and the Birmingham Metropolitan College).

Michael Klonowski, CEO of The CyberHub Trust, said:

“The digital landscape is expanding exponentially and as a result, cybercrime and the need for cyber security solutions is also growing, meaning there are some incredibly exciting career opportunities on offer.

“The pioneering and unique CyberHub initiative brings together educators, charities, employers and digital experts.

“We aim to help tackle major skills gaps in this growing sector, while putting the valuable and advanced digital skills of many talented young people to positive and important use. We are also working to address a generation of older candidates who wish to re-skill, for example those whose careers were impacted by COVID, or military personnel re-entering `civil society’.

“We are incredibly excited to launch the first CyberHub Security Operations Centre in the North West at Hugh Baird College. We look forward to further openings at colleges around the country in the coming months and nurturing the next generation of much-needed cybersecurity experts.”