Cyber College Cymru coming online for new generation of digital talent

NDEC, Cyber College Launch, Feb 2020

Education Minister Kirsty Williams chats to local students 


Leading companies and two Welsh colleges have come together to pilot a new initiative designed to create new routes into tech careers for a new generation of digital learners.

Cyber College Cymru is an initiative offering students hundreds of hours of industry input and a fresh curriculum developed with the colleges and the University of South Wales under the Welsh Government’s Strategic Insight Programme funded by HEFCW. If successful, the programme can be rolled out across Wales.

Two cohorts of 20 students will begin their studies in September at Bridgend College and the Ebbw Vale learning zone of Coleg Gwent. Their studies will lead to a BTEC Extended Diploma, the recognised equivalent of three A-levels.

As part of their course, the students will also spend a week at the University of South Wales’s National Cyber Security Academy in Newport. 

The industry partners, Admiral, Fujitsu and Thales, have been involved in shaping the curriculum and will collectively provide more than one thousand hours of input in the first year of the course, including mentoring, guest lectures, work placements and industry experience for the students selected for Cyber College Cymru.

Speaking to teachers and students at an event in the National Digital Exploitation Centre [NDEC] in Ebbw Vale, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “We’re always looking for ways to work with employers to get flexible, relevant learning. Cyber is about much more than staying safe online, and touches every part of our daily lives. 

“If we can give Welsh teenagers a new route to study cyber at higher education or go straight into the industry, we’ll be giving them a real advantage in a major and growing industry.”

USW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julie Lydon, said: “The work at the National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC) builds upon the experience that we have already cemented in our National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA) at the Newport Campus. This expertise is preparing students for a career within this growing industry and the introduction of the Cyber College will widen the pathways into cyber security education.”

Steve Cottrell, Group Chief Information Security Officer of Admiral, chairs the Cyber College working group and said: “The Cyber College Cymru initiative is about industry partners coming together to work with our local colleges and develop something new and relevant for the skills needs we have, now and in the future. 

“We all have a shared interest in growing our own talent: both getting Welsh teenagers to consider a career in cyber, and giving them the education and experience they need to meet that ambition. Cyber College Cymru is a great innovation driven by what we need in the world of industry and technology.”

Dr Alyson Thomas, Director of Policy and Funding in HEFCW, said: “We have been pleased to be able to fund the University of South Wales to really get to understand the needs of employers and industry to help set curriculum to deliver excellent digital skills. Matching employers with further and higher education institutions has been crucial in promoting a shared understanding of the digital needs of south east Wales. It is good to see the partners building on the support we provided as they construct a model for delivering a new curriculum in cyber and pathways for learners from level three and beyond.”