On 15 February, the inaugural ‘Secure Futures’ programme commenced digitally. The employability programme, which has been launched by the Security Institute and the EY Foundation, saw 27 young people from low income backgrounds take part in a week’s worth of paid virtual work experience that had been tailored specifically to the security sector.
The Secure Futures programme has been launched, with the support of several sponsors, as part of the Institute’s ‘Next Generation in Security’ initiative. The programme has been launched to help improve the life chances of young people from low-income backgrounds, helping them develop their skills and showcase the breadth of opportunities available within the security sector.
This week was the first of two virtual work experience weeks that the young people will undertake, which will then be followed by 10 months of mentoring from volunteer security professionals and a year’s free membership to the Security Institute to help support their professional development as they start their careers.
During the week the young people took part in several sessions designed to develop their core transferable skills that focused on skills such as communication and leadership to name a few. Several senior security professionals from across the sector joined the group, to share their insights within the security sector and answer any questions. The wide variety of speakers that volunteered their time to the programme helped inspire the young people and highlighted the wide range of jobs that are available within the sector.
Speaking of her experience on the programme, one of the young people, Dina said: “I came into the programme blind, I didn’t know there were so many roles within the security sector. Finding out from different people sharing their insights and experiences has made me more interested in security, for example I didn’t know before the programme that there was a wide variety of cybersecurity jobs out there.
“I didn’t have any idea what the sector was like, but now I see that it is open to anyone and there is a variety of things you can do. After one of the speakers came in, I am now interested in the role of a Malware Analyst and have started doing some of my own further research outside of the programme.”
The young people then also took part in a Dragon’s Den style challenge at the end of the week, drawing on all that they had learnt on the programme so far. Judged by an esteemed panel including Michelle Russell (Acting Chief Executive, Security Industry Authority), Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI (Chief Executive, The Security Institute), Alison Jackson (Managing Director, Nineteen Group), Mark Tucknutt MSyI (Security Consultant), Yoni Alon and Thomas Crewe.
The young people were challenged to develop a mobile app that would help attract other young people their age to a career in security and help raise awareness about the security challenges that we all collectively face. The ideas varied from gamifying students’ learning pathways to find out about security careers to using GPS to raise awareness about local issues related to security. The winners of the Dragon’s Den Challenge will be announced at the cohort’s virtual graduation ceremony on 9 April.
Speaking on his personal highlights and what he will take away from the first week, one of the young people, Ifaz said: “I have learnt quite a lot, such as the different pathways that are available to get into the sector. It was very inspiring speaking to senior security professionals, as young people we don’t really get the opportunity to speak to people in high positions very often. It was great to have them share their experiences and wisdom, we see a lot of the good work they as security professionals do around us but rarely see all the hard work and effort that goes behind it. After this week I want to research more to find out which sector I want to go into.”
Following on from this first week, the young people will take part in their second week of virtual work experience during April. This second week will provide a further in-depth insight into physical, personnel and cybersecurity. Leading up to this week the young people have also been invited to a number of exclusive industry events and will remain in contact with their professional mentor.
Speaking on the success of the programme so far, the Institute’s Director responsible for the Next Generation in Security initiative, Paul Barnard CSyP MSyI said: “Planning of the Secure Futures programme pre-dates the current pandemic, but we believed it is now more important than ever for this opportunity to be available to young people from low-income backgrounds and the success of this first week has proved that.
“This first week has highlighted the invaluable contributions that young people can make to the security sector, their fresh perspective and knowledge around different issues will help us tackle the challenges we face with innovative solutions. We need to embrace the next generation and the Secure Futures programme is helping lead the way for the whole sector.”
The first week was facilitated by the EY Foundation’s expert Programme Delivery Team, which included Nia Lonergan and Anita Chouhan. This is the Foundation’s first multi-employer programme and speaking on the success of the week, Anita said: “It has been a truly inspiring week and it has been fantastic seeing our young people get passionate about the world of security. We’ve never had a multi-employer programme before, so this has been a ground-breaking programme for us. The enthusiasm and expertise of the volunteer speakers has been keenly felt by everyone and the support that the programme has received from across the sector has been remarkable.”
The scheme has only been made possible by the other sponsors, including: CIS Security, The City of London Crime Prevention Association, ICTS, Nineteen Group (representing the International Security Expo and the Security Event), SASIG, SIA, The Walt Disney Company Global Security EMEA, Ward Security, Wilson James and the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals.
If you would be interested in supporting the ‘Secure Futures’ programme and helping usher in the ‘Next Generation in Security’ please contact Paul Barnard: [email protected]