Plant a seed and watch it grow: How early intervention could solve our digital skills gap

A talk by Clare Johnson and Holly Lidbury
University of South Wales and National Digital Exploitation Centre (Thales / USW)

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About this talk

The National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC) is a collaborative project between Thales, the Welsh Government and the University of South Wales. Through collaboration between industry, government and academia, a world-class centre of cyber expertise has been created in the heart of the Welsh Valleys to support digital transformation across the region. Located on the site of the old steel works in Ebbw Vale, the NDEC is both figuratively and literally replacing old industry with new.

As part of this project, a dedicated education work stream has been set up to help address the ongoing skills shortages within cyber and wider digital sectors in Wales. The team, led by Holly Lidbury, provides inspirational and engaging activities to introduce children to cyber security and digital concepts with the dual aims of both improving their own cyber awareness, and just as importantly, their aspirations to take up a career in this exciting and fast moving industry.

This innovative project, which aligns closely with the National Cyber Security Centre's CyberFirst programme, is supporting and developing the next generation of cyber security specialists by working with people of all ages and backgrounds. From code breaking activities for 5-7 year old Brownies, to industry focused projects for community groups that facilitate employment links - the NDEC education project is finding ways to get people excited about technology and into the indsutry.

Holly will be supported during the talk by Clare Johnson, University of South Wales, founder of Women in Cyber Wales, outlining the project's progress so far, including examples of previous engagements and plans for the future. This talk will be very informal with the opportunity to ask questions about engagements and discuss best practise for developing digital talent early on. There will also be opportunities to find out how you can get involved with the project, whether or not you are based in Wales.