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Neurodivergent Academy

Immersive Labs has gained a grant as part of the Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund (CSIF) from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It’s to create a Neurodivergent Digital Cyber Academy, as part of the UK Government effort to bridge the cyber skills gap.

Immersive Labs will create a specific Digital Cyber Academy (DCA) for ‘neurodivergent individuals’ to help them upskill, and develop technical skills required for a cyber career. Once users of the platform achieve certain badges, they can apply for jobs with corporate sponsors of the academy based on these demonstrable skills. The DCA will host over 250 labs on its platform, challenging those from novice cyberists to expert.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said: “Untapped talent in cyber security can be found anywhere but unless we look for it everywhere, we risk missing out. The Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund is a great example of Government working closely with industry, community groups and charities to boost diversity in the workplace. Diversity should be at the heart of what we do as we work to build a Britain which is fit for the future.”

Immersive Labs will work alongside the National Autistic Society and a Community Cyber Security Centre delivered by the UK Cyber Security Forum CIC to grant access using registration codes distributed to charities and schools. This means that the platform could be accessed by anyone, anywhere, regardless of how much experience they have. Individuals can develop at home, at their own pace, with labs at their existing level of cyber knowledge/skills.

Dr Emma Philpott from the Cyber Security Forum, pictured, said: “The Immersive Labs training platform is already recognised as the state of the art in cyber security training. The creation of this new Digital Cyber Academy represents an amazing opportunity for neurodiverse people to be trained up in cyber security and helps to address the growing skills gap within that field.”

And Emma Kearns from the National Autistic Society said: “We are really excited to be working in partnership with Immersive Labs. It is inspiring to be working with an organisation committed to improving accessibility for autistic people with both talents and aptitude for cyber security to improve their skills and succeed in the industry.”

James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs said: “Through the Cyber Skills Grant, and by working alongside organisations like the National Autistic Society, we really can work towards not only closing the skills gap, but bringing a more diverse talent pool to the industry. There are many incredibly talented individuals who are often looked over when it comes to employment within our field, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the starting platform they need.”


And meanwhile CompTIA, the technology association, launched its Cyber Ready retraining programme in the UK, after receiving funding from CSIIF. Seven initiatives were chosen to be supported by the National Cyber Security Programme. CompTIA’s Cyber Ready is six months of flipped-classroom learning aimed to deliver cybersecurity training to those with commitments who might not otherwise have the time to up-skill, such as parents and carers. Graham Hunter, VP of Certifications at CompTIA, said: “Cyber Ready will provide candidates with the necessary training to deal with real-world cyber security incidents and give those interested in the sector the confidence to start a career. CompTIA is dedicated to providing industry-relevant and skills-based training to ensure the next generation of cyber security professionals are the best in breed and from an increasingly diverse group of individuals.”


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