Kyle Woodward with fellow competitor Adrian Cybulski and Suresh Kamadchisundaram, WorldSkills UK Training Manager
DESPITE being a teenager, Kyle Woodward is already seen as an expert in cyber security.
And the 19-year-old University of South Wales (USW) undergraduate’s potential as a future leader in the sector has already been spotted by a major employer, who he’ll be working for while studying for his degree in Applied Cyber Security at the National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA), which is based at USW’s Newport Campus.
The potential Kyle has shown is one of the reasons he represented the UK in the WorldSkills Competition, which was held in the city of Kazan in Russia late last month.
The trip to Russia follows a year of intense challenges for Kyle from Cardiff, who was chosen from a massive field to be one of the UK’s two representatives in the cyber security section of the competition.
“I first applied for WorldSkills when I was in Cardiff and Vale College, and this has continued through to my time at USW,” Kyle said.
“Initially there were heats, then the UK finals in Birmingham last November, and then the UK Squad competition where everyone from the UK was competing to be in the final. Winning that meant I was chosen to compete for the UK in Kazan.”
The WorldSkills event aim to improve the prestige of apprenticeships and technical education, and inspire more young people to consider these as career routes, and for Kyle it’s been a major boost.
“The benefits of being involved in WorldSkills have been amazing,” Kyle said.
“You go into it with very little understanding of what it’s like in industry, and you very quickly learn what is needed – that it’s not just about the ability to do work in your chosen career, but it’s about confidence, networking, being able to talk to people and discuss what you’re all about.
“I was top of my age group in the competition and was told I’m seen as an expert in cyber security, which was fantastic to be hear when you’re aiming to develop as an individual and in your career.
“I would really recommend that anyone who has the chance gets involved in Worldskills. It’s an opportunity that’d be difficult to match, and has been incredibly beneficial for me.”
While the WorldSkills experience has been a benefit for Kyle, he is also grasping the similar opportunities he has been given as a student at the NCSA. The course aims to not just provide the students with a university education, but also give them real-life experience with specialist cyber partners.
“I’m lucky to be working with Wolfberry, one of the companies which has a base at USW’s Newport Campus, on the same floor as the NCSA,” Kyle said.
“One of the key aims of the course is to give us first-hand experience of what it’s like working in cyber, and these partnership are key to giving us that chance.
“I’ll be working part-time for them next year, and studying at the same time, so it’s a perfect way to get to know what I need to be able to do when I graduate from USW.”
Clare Johnson, Head of Cyber at USW, added: “Kyle's achievements in the WorldSkills competition are absolutely fantastic and we are really proud of him. He worked incredibly hard to get to the final and this was evident from the progress he made.
“Supporting young people to develop their skills in cyber is really important for the future security of the UK, and the opportunities offered to Kyle through this competition have been amazing.
“We are really grateful to everyone who has helped him on his journey and wish him every success with his future studies.”
Paul Evans, Wales’ Skills Ambassador, said: “To be chosen to represent your country on a world stage is a phenomenal achievement – we are extremely proud of all that Kyle has achieved.
“The skills developed by the young people in these competitions are vitally important for our future economy and we are excited to continue to develop this competition in Wales, utilising our past competitors as drivers and ambassadors for skills.”