Less than a third of Cyber Security Challenge finalists have found a job in cyber security

By Sooraj Shah
18 Mar 2014 View Comments
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Less than a third of Cyber Security Challenge UK (CSCUK) contestants who manage to get to the ‘face 2 face' or ‘masterclass' stages have found a career in cyber security, according to a response from the Cabinet Office to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Computing.

The challenge is a series of national events designed to encourage talented professionals to join the UK IT security industry amid an alleged cyber skills shortage.

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A spokesperson for the competition last year told Computing that just 40 people had secured jobs following two full years of the challenge, while in total 7,000 people have registered for the competition, meaning that only 0.57 per cent of registered entrants had gone on to secure roles in IT security.

Computing had asked the Cabinet Office how many contestants had gone on to a cyber-security role within government but it said that it "does not hold up to date information" on this.

However, it said that since the Challenge began four years ago "almost one in three contestants who have reached the ‘face 2 face' or ‘masterclass' stage of the competition have found a career in cyber security". This year there were 3,000 entrants and 42 contestants made it into the ‘masterclass' stage. Contestants work their way to the final stage by first completing virtual and then face to face competitions.

Computing had also asked how much the government spends per year in backing the challenge, and how much it had spent in total so far.

The figures are listed as part of the Cabinet Office transparency return as grant payments, it said. Computing tracked down four payments that the Cabinet Office made to Cyber Security Challenge UK Ltd.

In December 2012, the Cabinet Office made a £45,000 payment for the Get Safe Online campaign to the Challenge. In April 2013, the Cabinet Office made a payment of £45,000 for ‘sponsorship' of the challenge, and in the same month in made another payment of £95,000 to fund the cyber security schools challenge.

In July last year, the Cabinet Office made another £45,000 payment to CSCUK for "sponsorship of CSCUK as a partner in developing emerging talent to defend the UK online". Despite these payments listed online, it is unclear how much the government has spent in total in backing the challenge.

Earlier this year, the UK head of cyber security at KPMG told Computing that the professional services firm would scale down sponsorship of the challenge because of a lack of credible talent for the firm to recruit.

"We've drawn down our involvement this year, sadly we didn't see the CVs coming through and the sponsorship is quite expensive - we are a business. We still sponsor it, but there are a lot of other programmes going on," he said.

The CEO of CSCUK, Stephanie Daman, hit back at Jordan's claims, stating that the company is "not a recruitment agency" and that the organisation's success "cannot therefore be measured by the number of CVs that just one of its 70 or more sponsors has received".

Yesterday, CSCUK crowned its latest champion, Will Shackleton, a University of Cambridge student who recently secured a summer internship at Facebook.

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Computing and QA Training'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.

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