Degree-level apprenticeships in cyber security have been launched in the UK as part of an employer-backed "Cyber Academy".
The Cyber Academy, which was launched by the National Skills Academy for IT and e-skills UK, will see employers work in collaboration with academic institutes and government to motivate young people to consider careers in cyber security, provide new entry routes for them into the sector and improve access to the necessary training.
The programme is backed by Atos, IBM, John Lewis, National Grid and General Dynamics, as well as organisations such as CREST and the Cyber Security Challenge.
"Work is under way to both strengthen and raise awareness of the variety of potential entry routes to the cyber security profession," he said.
On the announcement of the Cyber Academy, Willetts said:
"The government is committed to improving cyber security, which is why the recent Spending Review included a further £210m investment in addition to the £650m already dedicated to the National Cyber Security Programme.
"The Cyber Academy will help develop the expertise the nation needs to tackle this important issue, and keep the UK ahead in the global race. In particular, we are excited to see the development of cyber security apprenticeships".
Organisations of all sizes have backed the programme, including smaller businesses that form part of the Malvern Cyber Security Cluster.
Ben Farrell, head of operational risk management at John Lewis, said: "Like many businesses today, we're acutely aware of the risks of cyber crime and are continually seeking to improve our teams' skills in the field. This fresh approach will help us in a variety of ways - from recruiting new staff to ensuring our existing people are aware of the latest threats and technologies."
Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK, said her organisation's research showed that the cyber security sector had an ageing workforce, with only seven per cent of professionals working in the field under the age of 29.
"For the UK to retain its innovative edge in this fast-moving field, we need to do more to bring new talent into the industry and continue to up-skill existing staff - that's exactly what the Cyber Academy aims to do," she said.
Computing's Securing Talent campaign aims to raise awareness of the growing need for people with cyber security skills in industry and government, and for clearer pathways into the cyber security profession.