Attending a GFirstLEP cyber security meeting, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of some of the leading lights in cyber which I believe will be a key cornerstone in Gloucestershire’s industrial future.
In GCHQ at Cheltenham, we already have the county’s second highest employer after the NHS with nearly 6,000 people.
We then have the development of the new Cyber Park in Cheltenham with the University of Gloucestershire as a key partner.
There is a tremendous amount of work going on to interest and educate our young people in the work opportunities provided by the world of cyber.
One of the very best examples of those opportunities is at the Berkeley Green campus run by SGS.
I told that cyber meeting I attended they should go and see the enthusiasm of the young people studying cyber and engineering there - many of them girls.
This is a real powerhouse of future STEM learning and it must continue to be supported to grow as it is just one of our county’s great further education colleges - sadly at the sharp end of government cost cutting.
Gloucestershire College too, of which I am privileged to be an honorary vice president, has formed a partnership with the University of the West of England (UWE) to offer cyber degrees from next year.
Their Cheltenham campus, of course, is right beside GCHQ which is very supportive of these new courses.
So, what is cyber? It covers almost everything we do in terms of automation and systems today.
One definition I picked up on Google seems appropriate:
“Relating to or characteristic of the culture of computers, information technology, and virtual reality.”
But we have to explain cyber far more to our young people and their parents as they consider studying for careers in this area.
We must demystify cyber - make it feel more human.
This will be so vital for the economic productivity and growth of Gloucestershire going forward so our county develops - like GCHQ - into a world class cyber security centre.