More than 700 pupils across 20 schools are being given a lesson in Cyber Security by staff from PwC Scotland as part of Cyber Scotland Week 2020, a move welcomed by the Scottish Government.
Staff from the firm’s Glasgow and Edinburgh offices are delivering a lesson which is among six devised as part of PwC’s Tech We Can programme. The programme was launched to encourage more school pupils - particularly girls - to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and ultimately pursue careers in technology roles, where there remains a disproportionate number of males.
PwC research has shown that just 27% of females would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of men, while just 3% of females say tech is their first choice of career. By working with children from school age, PwC believes it can help change the ratio.
The lessons coincide with Cyber Scotland Week 2020, run by Scotland IS, which debuted in 2019 in recognition of the importance of cyber security both in our working and personal lives.
Cyber security has become one of the major societal challenges of the internet age, and by helping children become more cyber aware PwC’s hope is that this not only helps to keep them safe and secure in their day to day life, but also helps to foster an interest in a future career in cyber security.
This will subsequently help to build the workforce of the future that will be required to support the Scottish Government's ambitious target of being a world leader in cyber resilience.
Leading from the front, Claire Reid, Regional Leader for PwC Scotland, delivered the lesson to her old primary school, while staff visited primary and secondary schools in their own local areas.
The lessons from Tech We Can are aimed at children from P6 to S2 and explore digital footprints, cyber attacks and hackers, and cyber security in the home. It also goes into detail of possible career paths in cyber security including ethical hackers, cyber security engineers and alarm engineers.
Claire Reid commented:
“Having worked my entire career in technology, as well as being a mum to three children who are beginning their own digital journeys, I know just how important it is for individuals and society overall to be aware of the threat posed by cyber crime, and how to protect themselves.
“From the moment we wake up to our internet-connected alarm clock through a day of working with smartphones, tablets and laptops and relaxing by watching streaming services in the evening we are surrounded by devices which require cyber security. Fingerprint and biometric identification are becoming the norm and that changes the way in which we must protect ourselves online.
“Cyber Scotland Week is a great platform for raising awareness of this, and it has also given us an opportunity to show the workers of tomorrow the opportunities that are available to them should they decide to pursue a career in technology.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
“Cyber Scotland Week gives people of all ages the chance to come together to understand and learn more about the threat of cyber security, and about the wealth of careers opportunities offered within what is a fascinating field. We expect this year’s events to build on last year’s success, and they will surely contribute to our ambition for Scotland to be a world leading cyber-resilient nation.
“PwC’s efforts as part of the Week – ultimately to encourage pupils to study STEM subjects with a view to a career in technology – are most welcome, and I look forward to hearing how its officials get on with their classroom efforts
Jane Morrison-Ross, CEO, ScotlandIS said:
“The digital technologies industry has a highly skilled workforce but we need many more people to join the growing businesses across the sector. Encouraging an increasing number of young people to pursue careers in technology is essential.
“It’s great to see a fantastic initiative like Tech We Can come to Scotland. Meeting with more than 700 children throughout the course of Cyber Scotland Week will not only help embed those essential cyber safety and skills messages, but Tech We Can will also help instill the belief in these young people that they can do anything, and tech is a great option for the future.”
The Tech We Can charter has been a great success, with 9,000 schools in England benefiting from the lessons. The charter has recently launched in Scotland, as part of the wider Tech She Can charter, which was launched to encourage more women to take up jobs in technology.
In addition to the Safety and Security lesson, the current syllabus covers Communication and Marketing; Education; Health & Inclusion; Engineering and Manufacturing; and Fun. Additional lessons will be added over the coming months and any school in Scotland can register at techwecan.org and download the plans.
Ross Foley, Cyber Security Director at PwC Scotland commented:
“Cyber security is now simply a fundamental life skill for children of the internet age, one which goes hand in hand with the road and personal safety lessons that we all remember from our own school days.
“What was once the domain of IT and security professionals has become a board level business issue and a basic life skill which each of us are challenged with on a daily basis.”
“Bringing this knowledge to children early in their digital journey not only keeps them safe and secure online, but will go a long way to creating a more diverse pool of cyber security professionals and a more cyber resilient workforce in the future.”