Cyber Security qualifications demonstrate value of collaboration

This article appears in the latest edition of Holyrood magazine.

SQA’s Cyber Security courses have struck a chord with schools and colleges. Teachers and lecturers are keen to offer young people the chance to develop valuable digital skills, and widen access to the industry.

As a country, we are punching well above our weight on the world stage by offering these courses. We have seen a surge in demand for our National Progression Awards (NPA) in Cyber Security since its launch in 2017.

Last year the number of young people achieving a NPA in Cyber Security grew by over 40%, and already this year there are over 1,000 candidates studying the course in schools and colleges across the country.

The course is unique. No other school-level qualification in Scotland offers candidates the chance to take on topics such as Data Security, Digital Forensics, and Ethical Hacking or opens candidates up to the career opportunities within the sector.

Where the NPA gives school pupils a taste of the industry, the Higher National Certificate in Cyber Security – and the imminent arrival of the Higher National Diploma due in August – adds depth of flavour and opens up a clear route into employment.

Looking forward, we are developing a Professional Development Award in Cyber Security, which would allow those already working in computing and IT, the opportunity to upskill, or even re-train and gain further employment.

These courses are only possible thanks to the successful collaborations we have had at all levels of the development process. We are working with leading academics, employers, and industry specialists at every stage of each qualification’s development to make sure the skills, knowledge, and experiences candidates acquire are credible, relevant, and valuable.

By doing so, SQA is meeting its responsibilities to provide candidates at all levels with the opportunities to succeed within this exciting and growing sector.