Empowering the Freelance Economy

Cyber security training: the new career that could keep you outside IR35 and ease you into semi-retirement?

IT and cyber security trainers will have a diversified classroom of students/Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
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IT contractors looking for a varied client base and a way to ease into semi-retirement may consider a career in corporate IT and cyber security training or higher education. However, who you might be training may surprise you, according to a BCS report.

As an IT contractor, you will likely have been working with businesses across a range of industries, with varied priorities and challenges. That makes you the ideal candidate to become a corporate cyber security trainer and remain outside IR35, allowing you to run your own business.

However, who you might be training may not be what you’d expect and that’s a good thing, according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Rashik Parmar, the Institute’s CEO, believes that the UK can only achieve the government’s ambition for the UK to be the ‘next Silicon Valley’ by closing the digital skills gap and making this vital profession attractive to a far broader range of people.

BCS reported that just 22% of people in the UK aged 50 or above are working in information technology.

To make the IT sector equal to the workplace ‘norm’, there should be an extra 148,000 people aged 50-plus in the profession, BCS’ analysis of ONS data found.

The Diversity 2022 report, created by BCS in partnership with Coding Black Females, also found that if gender representation in IT were equal to the rest of the workforce, an additional 486,000 female IT specialists were needed.

There were also around 63,000 IT specialists with disabilities, missing from the industry, using similar calculations.

“Information technology changes lives, yet employers are struggling to find workers with the right digital skills,” says Parmar.

“The figure for over 50s working in IT is significantly lower than in other sectors, as are the proportions of women and people with disabilities,” he says.

“This is clearly costing the economy and society, given how computing is woven into everyday life.

“The message must be that you can become an ethical, trusted and highly competent tech professional no matter what your background or age,” says Parmar.

Cyber security must be taught as a multi-departmental skill

BCS research highlights in another report that frameworks like the Cyber Security Body of Knowledge (CyBoK) which has an extensive range of 21 knowledge areas, should be a sign that IT is used everywhere and as such should be taught within every discipline or department.

For example, the diversity of the CyBoK topics ranges from human behaviour, organisational and regulatory aspects, attacks and defences, systems security, software and platform security, and infrastructure security, according to a BCS report Is cyber security being taught correctly?

This body of required knowledge illustrates that cyber security is a multi-departmental discipline and responsibility for businesses.

The report poses the questions:

  • Could the cyber security skills shortage be filled, in part, by appropriately taught practitioners from other specialisms who have been taught aspects of the CyBok framework?
  • Should all university degrees and professional apprenticeships be taught some degree of cyber security, notably in careers in human resources or organisational behaviour?
  • Would it be sensible to include modules on topics relating to cyber security’s human, organisational and regulatory aspects?

“By doing so you are creating a wider knowledge of cyber security and integrating it within traditional subjects,” says the report. “This would make cyber security less technical but more appealing to students and businesses.”

By equally including more departmental knowledge in the training process cyber security will be stronger and increasingly industry-specific not only in the conference and board rooms across the UK, but in its classrooms.

Seasoned IT contractors with multi-industry work experience and the latest cyber security skills in their arsenal will be in an enviable position when it comes to selling their services to corporate clients.

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