Belfast Telegraph

Feeding the cyber security talent pool

Dr Kieran McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast

By Dr Kieran McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast

One of the best ways for an economy to flourish is to develop its own set of specialisms.

By encouraging a community of businesses and talent which have expertise in a particular sector, a region can quickly become a world-leader in its chosen field, one which is self-propagating.

Germany has a reputation as a manufacturer of cars, London as a centre of financial services expertise, Brazil as the world’s biggest coffee producer.

Within each of these is a talent pool which continually feeds the industry and which helps make sure they are at the cutting edge of innovation.

Such is the case in Northern Ireland with the cyber security sector, one to which Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) plays a big part in supplying talent.

Northern Ireland on par with Silicon Valley

This region has established itself as a global hotspot for the specialism and is now considered one of the world’s centres of cyber security excellence, sitting alongside Silicon Valley for the depth of its expertise.

As well as a thriving cluster of indigenous companies and start-ups in the space, the region has also drawn a wealth of inward investors from around the world such as Black Duck, Rapid 7, Proofpoint, Alert Logic, Anomali and Whitehat Security.

Bolstering that cluster further is the fact a number of well-established inward investors such as Allstate, CME and Citi have also invested in cyber security operations in Belfast, as have professional services firms PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and BDO.

Your next step in becoming an industry leader

Behind our gleaming cyber security reputation are a number of factors, including leading forensic science expertise, tech research excellence and, of course, some of the best cyber security talent.

QUB plays a huge role in supplying that expertise and research.

Our Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for cyber security and the UK’s largest cyber security focused university technology research, development and innovation centre. CSIT is also helping deliver a new cyber innovation centre in London, the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA).

When it comes to developing talent for the sector, we run a MSc degree in Applied Cyber Security, which can be delivered on a one-year full time or a two-years part time basis.

This is in direct response to growing demand from the sector for top talent to fill the increasing number of cyber security jobs which have emerged over the last few years and which will become more in number in the coming years.

Similarly, course content has been designed in close consultation with industry to make sure the skills our students enter the cyber security workforce with are the skills employers need.

This is a great example of our determination to flex our teaching to meet the ever-changing need of industry.

The course itself is very much of an applied nature, allowing students to learn how to use and adapt theory in real life situations so they are ready for the world of work.

In the case of cyber security, we see so much potential that we are offering 40 fully-funded places on the MSc course, a considerable statement of intent on the university’s behalf.

The course is suitable for recent graduates with an interest in cyber security or those already in employment looking to upskill and is open now for 2019 entry.

There has certainly been strong demand for previous graduates from the MSc course and with Northern Ireland’s reputation as a cyber security hub growing every year, that thirst for talent looks likely to increase.

Anyone interested in applying for 2019 entry to the MSc in Applied Cyber Security can find more details here: qub.ac.uk

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