UK Cyber 9/12: Supporting the next generation of cyber leaders

Head of Programme in Cyber at Tech UK, Talal Rajab, discusses what he enjoys about the competition.


Talal Rajab

2/13/20192 min read

techUK is proud to support the work of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 competition which bridges the cyber skills shortage by encouraging university students from a range of policy and technological backgrounds to get involved in the cyber industry.

It has long been clear that there is a cyber skills shortage, and the UK government recently announced that it plans to carry out a second audit into the state of the Country's cyber security workforce.

With 2018’s shocking revelations that just under half of all businesses felt they were insufficiently skilled to deal with a cybersecurity breach or attack, it is crucial that we promote efforts to increase cyber security skills across industry. Though there is clear demand for cyber security career paths, university courses related to the subject receive less funding than more traditional counterparts such as mathematics or physics.

Consequently, routes into cyber from other disciplines are much needed for those exploring their future career options and Cyber 9/12 provides a valuable opportunity.

Talal Rajab. Head of Programme - Cyber, techUK

Talal headshot
Talal headshot

The competition generates blended learning, allowing university students to understand the value of professions involved in the cyber sector while also emphasising the needs for a diverse cyber security workforce with a multitude of soft and technical skills. We at techUK believe diverse perspectives, like those promoted in the Cyber 9/12 competition, lead to more innovative solutions.

Gary Dreyer, one of the members of the winning CamPhishing team last year, highlighted how the competition can open up cyber security to those exploring alternative disciplines. While undertaking his MPhil in International Relations at the University of Cambridge, he saw Cyber 9/12 as an opportunity to learn more about the cyber realm and ensure that he would remain cyber aware in his future career.

Gary told techUK that his understanding of current issues in cyber security and his strategic communications skills were vastly improved by the competition and that it also provided him with excellent networking and social opportunities, giving him a strong connection base in the cyber industry, and allowing him to explore the geopolitical ramifications of cyber threats.

It is opportunities like this, where students are given an understanding of how the cyber security industry works and how it can impact other sectors of society, which makes techUK so supportive of the competition.

Commenting on techUK’s support for the competition Talal Rajab, techUK’s Head of Cyber and National Security, said: “techUK is delighted to be supporting the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. The cyber skills shortage is a well known problem, with a recent parliamentary report urging government to address the growing UK cyber security skills gap. Much of the work done in this space to date, however, has focused on growing technical skills and capabilities.

That is why initiatives like the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge are so important, as they focus on developing “soft skills” like strategy, policy analysis and presentational skills that are also in short supply in the sector.”