I must admit to being quite tired when writing this. A few days have passed since the amazing Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival and I should have caught up by now but standing in your feet for large parts of the day while trying to focus on broad concepts and chatting with colleagues old and new takes it out of you. A few days with the grandchildren hasn’t helped either.

Anyway,  it is time to get my head around what happened at Newcastle Racecourse and, most importantly, what came out of it. 

For those of you who have been paying attention, CyberNorth does something a little different from the other sprints that take place across the festival. Rather than having a week-long look at a problem, we try to address three different areas across three different days. This gives more people the chance to get involved, experience the festival and help solve important issues.

On day one, we looked at ‘Closing the skills gap in cyber security – how can we get more career changers to consider a career in cyber?’ In the morning we spent our time framing the issue with some informative speakers from the North East ICT Managers, Fortinet, Gateshead College and Accenture. In the afternoon we got down to the real business of trying to make sense of what is needed.

Where did we get to then? It’s still early days and the ideas we worked on are still a little raw but some clear  themes emerged. The group liked the idea of a ‘Cyber for all’ campaign which would highlight  the very different skills required in cyber security. We tend to focus on technical issues when thinking about skills yet non-technical people dominate the market by almost two to one. The CyBOK – The Cyber Security Body of Knowledge model of skills is not enough and this idea could expand to be a CyBOK plus, covering all aspects of the sector.

The skills required are transferable both from cyber out but also from other sectors in. Work is required to identify what these transferable skills are and look to other teams where people already have them. In many ways, it feels that businesses recruiting for positions are too narrow in their thinking and being too specific when advertising their requirements. There are many people who could fill these roles who perhaps have not realised it yet. This is where the campaign can score

Cyber security needs to be marketed as a rewarding, enjoyable and attainable profession and this idea, once developed, will go a long way to addressing such issues. It may also help us to define what cyber is, as all of us around the tables had a different take. Answers on a postcard.

Thanks to Danielle who led the session.